School Catering

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Cashless Catering


In January 2013 we installed a new cashless system for the catering service at Tolworth Girls’ School & Sixth Form. Our desire is to continue to provide and improve on the quality of the school meal service at our school. The system went live on Thursday 31st January 2013.  Cash is no longer accepted at the food counter ‘Till Point’ in "Munchies". Instead the value of the food 

purchased is deducted from each student's pre-paid account. 


The system enables us to deliver a more efficient, faster service and to continue to provide wholesome, healthy, and enjoyable meals at the lowest cost. Similar systems are also working very effectively in a number of local schools.

The main benefits are......

  • Convenient way of paying for school meals.  No more looking for change every morning.
  • Discourages the misuse of school dinner money through spending in shops outside of the school grounds.
  • Alleviates many of the associated problems with the use of cash in schools.  i.e.:  Loss, theft and bullying.
  • Specific food allergy ingredients can be barred automatically.
  • Healthy eating is encouraged.
  • Queuing times are reduced through increased speed of service.
  • Automatic free meal allocation with the pupil remaining anonymous.
  • Detailed reports to analyse all aspects of the use of the system.
  • Having control of student accounts by students using the I.M.P.A.C.T.  System teaches important life skills.
  • A more efficient delivery of service helps the caterer to provide wholesome, healthy and enjoyable school meals at a low cost

The following Questions and Answers explain the system in full.

What is a Cashless System?

At the heart of the cashless system there is a computer controlled by I.M.P.A.C.T. - Software. This allows the system to recognise each individual pupil, hold individual cash balances, record cash spent and cash received record where money is spent, on what food, on any specific date and time of day.

How are pupils recognised by the system?

Each pupil will have their finger image registered which will then be translated to an Alpha Numeric number, the image is then discarded, when used this will then enter them into the system program and identify them by a number.  Use  this link for more information about this Biometrics system

How is this then used to obtain a school meal?

The Pupil simply places their finger on a scanner at the point of sale; a display will show the server the pupil's name, class and current cash balance held within the system. The selected food items will be entered into the system from an itemised keyboard while the amount spent and the new cash balance will show on the displayed

How is money entered into the system?

(a) Online Payments. Each parent is supplied with a unique login which can used to access the Parent Pay website and add value to their child's account.  If, for any reason, you do not receive details please contact the Finance Office  (

(b) Pay via Pay Point at local shops. Please contact the Finance Office ( ) for further information.

How will the pupil be able to check what the current cash balance is held in the system at any one time?

(a) Online by logging onto the Online Payment website.

(b) Using the Balance Reader which will be located in the main school. Students will have access to this before and after school as well as during break and lunch time.

If we pay for a set number of school meals, can it be spent in one day?
No, a daily spend limit of £5.00 will be set for all pupils and no food above that limit can be bought. On request, an individual pupil limit of your choice could also be set, to include a school dinner and break time snacks. This can be increased or decreased for an individual student by making a written request to the Cashless Catering Administrator, who is based in the School Attendance Office.

What if the pupil does not hold a sufficient cash balance one day to pay for a school dinner?

As before, no pupil is refused a school dinner because they have not brought their dinner money to school with them. The school will allow for the pupil to have an "overdraft" for one day. However parents will be expected to credit their daughters / sons account using Parent Pay or Pay Point within 24 hours. For the first month only parents can send in a cheque payable to Tolworth Girls' School via the finance office.

Parents will be informed of the "overdraft" by text message (or letter) on the day that it is given.

What about pupils entitled to a 'free school meal'?

The system works exactly the same for all pupils whether they pay or have a free school meal. All pupils have their own account to use in exactly the same way.

The amount allocated for a free school meal is added to the student's account and is accessible at break and or lunch time.  Please note, however, that any under-spend or missed dinner will be identified by the system and will not be added to the next day's balance.

Parents can add extra cash on to their daughter's balance in the system by using Parent Pay so enabling a greater daily spend than allocated by their free meal allowance. Extra cash added into the system can be used for break or lunch time food and drink.

There is no more queuing to be issued a 'free meal' tickets.

Do pupils have problems in using this system?
Some pupils  find it difficult to control their accounts for the first couple of weeks, but because of a daily spend limit, most learn this important life skill very quickly and will enjoy being in control of their account.

Will we be able to have any information on how the system is being used?
Reports can be obtained from the system giving comprehensive information on all aspects of use for each individual pupil as well as each day's service. These reports can be for a specific day or between any dates you wish and can be obtained from the Catering Department.

(a) To show every item of food served and the total cost of each serving.

(b) Individual payments made direct to the school by Parent Pay.

Data Handling
Certain data will be held on the system to enable accurate operation. This will include your child's name, class, photo, account balance and meal entitlement. This data will be handled under the guidelines of the data protection act and only used by parties directly involved with the implementation of the system. If you have any concerns please contact the school.