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Free School Meals: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Education

UIN 42124, tabled on 1 May 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the efficiency of companies issuing free school meals vouchers to families during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered on

11 May 2020

As both my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have made clear, the Government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.

During this period, we are asking schools to support children eligible for free school meals by providing meals or food parcels through their existing food providers wherever possible. We know that many schools are successfully delivering food parcels or arranging food collections for eligible children and we encourage this approach where it is possible.

However, we recognise that providing meals and food parcels is not a practicable option for all schools. That is why on 31 March we launched a national voucher scheme as an alternative option, with costs covered by the Department for Education.

We are monitoring the use of the national voucher scheme on a daily basis. As of 28 April, Edenred has indicated that over 16,500 schools have placed orders for codes under this scheme. Edenred has reported that over £65 million worth of voucher codes has been redeemed into supermarket eGift cards by schools and families through the scheme as of Monday 11 May.

We are working tirelessly with Edenred to resolve any outstanding technical problems. We are very grateful to families and schools for their understanding and patience while we upgrade this service to meet increased demand.

These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.