ANGRY parents have been told their children will go hungry if they fail to pay school dinner money on time.

Children at West Leigh Junior School, in Leigh, were sent home with a letter telling parents if they didn’t pay up on time their child would not be fed.

The letter is a reaction to a number of parents persistently failing to pay dinner money on time, or at all, causing an administrative headache for office staff.

Dinner money must be paid by cash or cheque at the start of each week, as the school says late payments are costing upwards of 15 hours of office time a week.

But John Banks who has two daughters at the school, Molly, eight, and Emily, 11, was shocked by the tough stance.

Mr Banks, 46, said: “I can’t believe they would let a child go without their lunch.

“If you have two parents at work in London there is no way on earth they could jump on a train and get back in time to take something into school.

“We all forget things, and to be told ‘you are not eating today little girl’, seems a bit much to me.”

Mr Banks, of Edinburgh Avenue, Leigh, said he realised the extra admin caused difficulties for the school, but said if alternative payment methods, such as account transfers, could be used it would be simpler for everyone.

He said: “The fact they don’t make it as easy as possible for people to pay doesn’t help.

“Some people don’t even have a break at work for lunch because they are working so hard to keep their jobs. It would seem incredibly frivolous to a manager that you had to go and take a lunch to your child.”

But headteacher Cheryl Woolf defended the decision. She said: “We have a lot of parents who seem to think they can send their child in with no money and expect them to be fed, and we are putting our foot down.

“You wouldn’t go into a restaurant and demand a lunch if you had no money.

“It is costing us money in all sorts of ways. It’s not everybody who is guilty of this. It’s just some parents have taken advantage of our kindness.”

Mrs Woolf added the school accepted meal payments on a very flexible basis, from weekly to annual payments, and is looking at introducing other methods of payment.