To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the COVID Summer Food Fund, whether the alternative support of up to £90 per pupil can be used to (a) make cash payments to families, (b) pay for the production and distribution of meals and (c) provide free school meal support in other ways.
15 July 2020
Provision for free school meals is ordinarily term-time only. However, owing to the COVID-19 outbreak, the government fully 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 6-week holiday period. Our guidance on the Covid Summer Food Fund is available here:
Schools can order vouchers for the Covid Summer Food Fund through the same Edenred portal that was created for our national free school meals voucher scheme during term time. The department will meet the cost of vouchers ordered through this portal, and a wide range of supermarkets are participating: Aldi, Asda, Company Shop Group, Iceland (including The Food Warehouse Stores), Marks & Spencer, McColl’s, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose. Since the scheme’s launch in March, the department and Edenred have continually upgraded this system, and over 18,500 schools had placed orders through this site as of 30 June. Thousands of families are receiving free school meals vouchers through this system. Overall, over £238 million worth of voucher codes has been redeemed into supermarket e-gift cards by schools and families through the scheme, as of 10 July.
Many parents will be able to access one or more of the supermarkets on our national scheme. However, if a school considers that its families cannot access any of these supermarkets, they can make alternative voucher arrangements with a local supermarket or they can arrange food parcels for collection or delivery to eligible children. Schools can claim for the costs through the department’s exceptional fund. Where schools are ordering alternative vouchers for the summer holidays, these orders must be placed one week before the school summer term ends. If schools arrange food parcels in the summer holidays, these can only be ordered for children in receipt of free school meals before the summer holidays begin. The guidance on the exceptional costs fund is available here: