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Free School Meals: Voucher Schemes

Question for Department for Education

UIN 42125, tabled on 1 May 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of extending the contract for provision of free school meal vouchers to EdTech companies.

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.

We are encouraging schools to use existing catering arrangements to provide meals or food parcels to pupils who are eligible for free school meals while they are staying at home. Where this is not possible, the Department for Education has developed a centrally funded national voucher scheme as an alternative to support schools with this process.

Schools are best placed to determine what is most appropriate locally and are free to make their own arrangements outside the national voucher scheme. We understand that some approaches, such as providing food parcels or purchasing vouchers for shops currently not included in the national scheme, may mean that schools incur additional expenses. Guidance is available setting out how we will compensate schools who incur these additional costs in providing free school meals or vouchers to pupils affected by coronavirus:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance-for-schools.

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