A dinner lady stole almost £16,000 from a breakfast club at a Birmingham school set up to encourage children to eat healthily, the city's crown court heard yesterday.
Jennifer Virtue dipped into the fund for four years, but in sentencing her to a two-year community rehabilitation order Judge Elizabeth Fisher said she accepted the cash was not spent on a lavish life style and took into account her previous good character.
Virtue (58), of Quarry House Close, Rubery, had previously been convicted of four charges of theft and four of making a false instrument.
Jas Mann, prosecuting, said the club was set up at Forestdale Primary School in Frankley in September 2000 and was run by four employees including Virtue, a catering supervisor.
He said that profits generated by the scheme went towards the "betterment" of the school.
In October 2004 Virtue went off sick for a number of days leaving two other staff members in charge of selling meals.
The pair recorded sales in a book but the records they had made were later discovered thrown into a dustbin which lead to an investigation being carried out by the city council.
He said it was discovered that the scheme was generating far in excess of the amounts that Virtue had been recording in the accounts book and that she had been pocketing about £175 a week.
Gurdeep Garcha, defending, said Virtue had not had a holiday in many years and that she lived a simple life with her children and husband who was a security guard.
He said she was ashamed about what she had done. Mr Garcha said she lost her employment at the school, now working part time in a cafe, and that she had keep the "dark secret" of her dishonesty from her family.