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Thornleigh Salesian College
Sharples Park
Bolton, BL1 6PQ

T: 01204 301 351
F: 01204 595 351

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Cashless Catering FAQs

What is a Cashless Catering system?

The Cashless Catering system is a software application on the secure school network which sets up individual student accounts, holds individual cash balances, records cash spent and received and recording where money is spent, on what food, on any specific date or time of day.

Why Biometric?

Biometrics means any techniques that rely on measurable physical characteristics that can be automatically checked. This system was chosen by the school as being more effective and user friendly for students to access the school’s new Cashless Catering system. However there is an alternative method to biometrics if you or your child so chooses.

Finger Scanning Technology

Finger scanning converts minutia from your child’s finger print into a vector of numbers known as a biometric template. This biometric template (not an image of the original fingerprint) is then stored on the Cashless Catering system on the secure school ICT network. This encrypted number is only useful on this system and cannot be used to recreate your child’s fingerprint image. We want you and your child to be comfortable using this technology so if either of you choose not to have their finger scanned then this is not a problem as there is an alternative method for your child to use.

Once your child leaves school their biometric data is deleted immediately. If you change your mind and withdraw consent at any point in the future you must write into school and the biometric data will be securely deleted from the system. Biometric data will only be used on the Cashless Catering system and not passed on to any other organisation or agency.

Is there an alternative option?

The alternative to using biometrics is for your child to be issued with a computer generated pin code to access their individual account on the Cashless Catering system.

How are students recognised by the system?

By using the finger scanners on the revaluation stations and at the till in the canteen your child will be able access their account and either top up their account, check their current balance or purchase food at the point of sale in the canteen. Alternatively your child will be issued with a pin code which will allow them to top up at the revaluation machine, check current balances and buy food at the point of sale points in the canteen. Your child can use finger scanning or have a pin code but not both. 

How is it then used to obtain a school meal?

Your child needs to simply place their finger on the scanner or enters their pin code at the till in the canteen; a display will show the server your child’s name, class, photo and current cash balance held on 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 display.

What about students entitled to free school meals?

The system works exactly the same for all students whether they pay or have a free school meal. All students have their own account to use in exactly the same way. The amount allocated for the free school meal will be entered on the system daily and can be used at any service breakfast, break or lunch. If your child underspends or misses their meal this will be identified but will not be added to the next day’s balance.

Your child may add extra credit on his or her balance in the system using the revaluation station, by cheque or by payments online, to enable a greater daily spend on their meal, than allocated by their free school meal allowance of £2:30 (May 2013). There will be no more ‘free meals’ tickets given out in forms during morning registration.

How is money entered onto the system?

Online payments is recommended as a quick, easy and convenient way for you to pay and this can be made through the school website On the main menu under <Parent Zone> go to <Online payments> and then follow the instructions to access the secure School Office on-line payment system. Online payments are synchronised to the cashless catering system every 60 minutes. The online payments will be made to ‘Mellors Catering Services’ bank account as they manage the Catering Service in school. However, ‘Mellors Catering Service’ does not have access to any biometric information it is ONLY held on the secure school network. Information on how to set up your personal account will be sent out separately.

Coins or notes – insert into the automatic cash revaluation terminal located in both foyers and upstairs in the canteen or the Sixth form Common room. The units accept £20 – £10 – £5 notes and £2, £1, 50p – 20p – 10p coins.

  • Please note 1p -2p -5p coins cannot be used

By cheque payment made to ‘Mellors Catering Services’ and given in at the Finance office. All cheques must be given before 9:10 am to ensure monies are available to use on that day. Please write the ‘Full name and Form’ of your child(ren) on the back of the cheque or on an envelope. If payment is to be shared between two or more children, identify all their full name and forms.

How does the revaluation station work?

Firstly your child places their finger on the scanner mounted on the Revaluation unit or enters their own pin code number and this displays their name and current cash balance held on the system. To top up an account with cash coins or notes need to be inserted into the slot. Each incremental cash balance will show on the display. No change is given.

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

This can be done by using the revaluation station and either placing their finger on the scanner or entering their pin code to display the current cash balance.

Also the display at the tills in the canteen will show the new cash balance when the food service is finished.

What if your child does not hold a sufficient cash balance on one day to pay for a school meal?

The system will not automatically allow accounts to become ‘overdrawn’. However, the school will not allow a student to go without a school meal so the Catering Manager will have the facility to override the system in exceptional circumstances. However, you would be expected to send money in the next day to cover this cost.

Will students have problems in using the system?

We want to make the transition to the new Cashless Catering System as easy as possible but realise some students may find it difficult to control their accounts for the first couple of weeks, but most learn this important life skill very quickly and will enjoy being in control of their account.

Just a reminder, if at any time you or your child want to change from pin code to finger recognition please send your written permission into school. Alternatively, if at any time if either you or your child wishes not to continue to use finger recognition then you must let the Finance office know, so we can ensure correct procedures are then followed.

Even if you have consented, your child can object or refuse at any time to their biometric information being taken/used. We would appreciate if you could discuss this with your child and explain to them that they can object to this if they so wish.

Will you be able to have any information on what food my child is choosing?

Once the system is up and running, you will be able to request reports from the system for your child on all aspects of use and their food choices. These reports can be generated for a specific day or between dates as you wish.

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