Meal booking and Menu selection explained

Some schools use ParentPay’s Meal Booking and/or Menu Selection service. This involves parents booking the meals they want their children to take via their ParentPay account instead, of the school recording the attendance via the Manager Account.

There are two types of bookable services:

  •  Meal Booking: Payers have the option to state the day that they want the pupil to have a meal. No choices can be made, the parent simply ticks to state they want to book a cooked meal on a particular day.
  • Meal Selection: Payers have the option to select the meal choices they want the pupil to have from the menu displayed. As many choices / courses as required can be provided, for example Starter, Main, and Dessert.

 

Meal Booking

 

There are two options for Meal Booking.

  1. The first is for the payer to only have the ability to Book a Meal. No menu is displayed and the likelihood is that the school/caterer are providing payers with access to the menu via other means, perhaps a website or via a Newsletter.
    When the payer logs in they only have the option to book a meal. The payer must confirm the booking. If the pupil is a free meal or universal infant free meal pupil the booking will be saved and there will be no relevant charge attributed.
    If the payer is required to pay for meals the cost of the booked meals will be added to their basket. They payer will have two hours from the time of booking the meal to pay. If payment is not received after two hours the booking will be cancelled.

Please note: Some schools will charge more than the allowance for Universal Infant Free School Meals. In these instances the additional cost will be attributed to the payer account once a meal is booked and the payer will be required to pay for the additional amount charged. If the school does not want parents to pay the additional amount and are happy to cover the additional cost they can contact the Support team and ask for the UIFSM allowance rate to be increased to cover the cost of the meal.

 

The menu below shows how a Meal Booking only menu appears within a payers account:

 

2. The Meal Booking with menu to view option enables schools or caterers to create a daily menu that can be viewed on screen by payers. The payer is still only able to book a meal, they cannot make a selection from the menu displayed and the menu will be greyed out to make this clear to the payer.
The menu below shows how a Meal Booking with Menu to View menu appears within a payers account:

 

Meal Selections

 

Meal Selections enables the payer to select an item, or items, from a displayed menu. The menu can contain as many courses as required and has a notes option against each choice which can be populated with nutrition or allergen information.
In addition schools or caterers are able to set rules for the selection of meals, for example payer must select one option from each course, or no changes to selections within 3 days of the meal being taken.
When the payer logs in they only have the option to make their selections from the menu displayed. The payer must confirm the booking to ensure their selections are visible to school staff. If the pupil is a free meal or universal infant free meal pupil the booking will be saved and there will be no relevant charge attributed.
If the payer is required to pay for meals the cost of the selected and booked meals will be added to their basket. The payer will have two hours from the time of booking the meal to pay. If payment is not received after two hours the booking will be cancelled.
The menu below shows how a Meal Selection menu appears within a payers account:

 

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Who is able to use Meal Booking or Menu Selection and is there an extra charge?


There is no additional charge for existing ParentPay users – if you are already using ParentPay Dinner Money just submit a request to our Support Team and we will switch Bookings on for you.

 

Our catering is provided by an outside caterer/the LA, who sets this up for us?


If you are part of a Caterer or Local Authority project with ParentPay which is moving to Bookings, then the likelihood is that the new Dinner Money payment item will be configured for you. You will hear more from the Project Manager for your area when it is time for you to start using Selections.

 

What reports are available to enable schools to view the meals booked?


All ParentPay’s existing reports, which present data on meal numbers, will include information on meals recorded through Bookings. There will also be an additional Selection Report and Menu Expiry Report available to Booking and Selection schools.

 

How will Caterers or Local Authorities access their reports?


Through their own secure online login – the reports available give an overview of the Bookings activity in their schools (as well as traditional reports on meal uptake).

 

How do Booking cut off rules and charging policies work?

 

These are defined during the setup of bookings as required by you/your caterer/LA.

 

What control may a Caterer or LA have over their schools’ payment item setup, booking cut off, charging policies etc. (where applicable)?


If you are part of a Caterer or Local Authority project with ParentPay, it is likely that your payment item parameters will have been set globally to reflect the Caterer or LA’s
requirements. The system is flexible in the event they would like to apply a separate configuration to a specific school or set of schools.

 

How will parents use Bookings and what will they see?


Parents will see a weekly menu to “book a day” or a weekly menu with selections. The parent either books the relevant day or selects the meal choices and are prompted to pay for the days booked when they save their changes. 

 

If a parent does not pay for their booking in time, is their booking cancelled?


Unpaid bookings will result in meals being cancelled two hours after the booking was made and an email will be sent to the payer advising them of this.

 

What happens if Javascript/active scripting is disabled in school?

 

You can still use Bookings however, the pages you will see will be slightly different to the guidance screen shots. You will be able to perform all the same functions.

 

Do parents have to have JavaScript/active scripting enabled on their computer?


Parents without JavaScript or active scripting enabled will not be able to use online bookings reliably, we therefore recommend you encourage them to enable.

 

Can I switch my current Dinner money payment item to become a Bookings item?


Yes – however, we would recommend you contact our Support Team for advice on this.

 

Will I still need to enter and maintain Meal patterns for Bookings?


No – meal patterns are superseded by parents going online and taking control of their own bookings, therefore meal patterns MUST NOT be used.