Pupils at a primary school are being fed bread and water for lunch if they forget their dinner money.
A “handful” of children at Mount Pleasant Primary School in Shrewsbury have fallen foul of the policy and have had to sit away from others to eat.
Jamie-Lee Heath, whose daughter was in two days’ arrears, said it was like something from a Charles Dickens novel.
The school said it has been forced to write off money owed by parents and needed an alternative system.
Ms Heath, whose story was first reported in the Shropshire Star, said she received a text from the school an hour before lunch to say £4.40 was owed and no dinner had been ordered for her nine-year-old daughter Madison.
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She said Madison had accidentally left her lunch in her father’s car on 26 April and was given a hot meal at school, leaving her owing £2.20.
Madison went to school without cash or lunch the following day, prompting the text to Ms Heath, 30, a kitchen designer.
She was able to pay the arrears in time, but has branded the system “ridiculous”.
“It did happen to a friend’s son and he was given chopped red and yellow peppers, bread and butter, and either milk or water.
“It’s like Charles Dickens and ‘please sir, can I have some more?'”
Parents, who can pay for lunch online or with cash on the day, were informed about the new policy in the school’s newsletter in June last year.
Head teacher Steve Morris said if arrears exceeded £6.60 – over three days – lunch would not be provided and pupils should bring sandwiches.
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Ms Heath said she was aware a handful of pupils had been affected by the rule.
In a statement, Mr Morris said the school was “renowned for its stance in financially supporting families and pupils” and had previously written off money owed by parents which was “fundamentally unfair on parents who do pay”.
Mr Morris said a child would always receive a meal and although he previously told parents it was bread fruit and water, he accepted that statement “lacked detail and clarity but in reality the children receive more than this”.
Pupils eating the alternative meal do not join others in the school hall to manage the situation sensitively, he added.