Students at St Mary's College in Dundalk will get to taste a totally new dining experience when they return to school from their mid-term break, as the school canteen launches an innovative new diners card.
The card, the brainchild of canteen operators TFW Food Services, will allow parents the opportunity to pay for their child's meals without using cash.
They can go online to pre-load the card with money and then log to see what meals their child has been purchasing. Declan Walsh of TFW says the new card will give parents peace of mind.
“They know their child is going to eat healthy food," he told the Dundalk Democrat. "The parents can also go online and see what items of food the children have bought.”
"It gives the parents a bit of control," he adds. "The card is very secure – it’s just like a transaction in a shop."
The new scheme, which launches on April 12th, will see the Marist become the only school in Louth to use such a card. Walsh says that within schools nationally that use such technology, the opt-in rate is over 80%.
The new diners card is purely optional - cash sales will still be taken but the school and TFW are encouraging the move to online top-ups and digital tracking.
"It will be there in the future so we’re trying to get ahead of the game. Our vision is to phase out cash in schools altogether," Declan said.
"We’re a small catering company based in Dundalk and we pride ourselves on giving quality food to children. We cook all fresh in- house. There are no fryers in the school.
"This was a step forward in giving the parents a bit of control and to ensure the child is getting a balanced diet in school."
Benefits of the card include parents not having to worry about always having cash in the morning to being able to ensure the money is spent on healthy food.
Declan says the card will also afford students and families more privacy.
"Nobody knows what the value of the card is. Some people might have €20 on the card, some might have €3.”