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Free School Meals: Voucher Schemes

Question for Department for Education

UIN 60716, tabled on 17 June 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if children who become eligible for free school meals during the school summer holiday period will be able to claim the national school food voucher or alternative from their school.

Answered on

29 June 2020

Our latest guidance on free school meals is set out below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance.

Provision for free school meals is ordinarily term time only. However, owing to the COVID-19 outbreak, the government understands that children and parents face an entirely unprecedented situation over the summer. To reflect this, we will be providing additional funding for a Covid Summer Food Fund which will enable families with children who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals to receive food vouchers covering the six-week holiday period.

Our guidance on the Covid Summer Food Fund is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-summer-food-fund.

Through the Covid Summer Food Fund, schools can support eligible pupils with a £90 voucher to cover the six-week holiday period. Schools must order the vouchers at least one week before their school term ends. If a school receives a claim for an eligible child during the final week before the school’s summer holidays, it will be possible for the school to place an exceptional order for that child via our supplier Edenred. The completion of orders by the end of term reflects the fact that school staff will break for the summer.

The government has made significant wider support available for children and families at this time. On 10 June, my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, confirmed an additional £63 million to be distributed to local authorities in England to help those who are struggling to afford food and other essentials due to COVID-19. In addition, the government has introduced an uplift to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by around £1,000 a year for the next 12 months as part of an injection of over £6.5 billion by government into the welfare system.

Additional support has been pledged by various departments across government with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) announcing the provision of £16 million for food support through charities, including FareShare and WRAP. DEFRA have also issued 2 million food packages to those who are shielding.