Free school meal vouchers extended this summer

Two children eating food
The council is once again providing food vouchers this summer holiday.

Almost £1m worth of vouchers will be provided to 10,000 children eligible for free school meals this summer holiday.

Almost £1m worth of vouchers will be provided to 10,000 children eligible for free school meals this summer holiday as the Council extends support to families on low incomes.

Continuing the provision made throughout the last four school holidays to families who are struggling in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, the council is providing £90 supermarket vouchers for each child to cover the six-week break. The money is roughly equivalent to the cost of providing a child with a free meal at school.

The food vouchers can be redeemed at local supermarkets and will be provided to 10,802 pupils from 119 schools across the borough, totalling £970,785 in funding (two schools are closing for five weeks only).

The Council has chosen to make the provision by using the government’s Covid Local Support Grant.

Through the summer, the vouchers will be complemented by the Rotherham Healthy Holidays scheme which provides activity days with healthy school meals to all children in the borough.

The Rotherham Healthy Holidays programme has been organised by the Council with a range of partners to offer activities ranging from football and cycling through to arts and first aid throughout the summer. Each activity day includes a healthy meal and families who are entitled to free school meals can also book a place for free.

The Council is working in partnership with local schools, who will distribute the vouchers to eligible families on its behalf and also promote the free places to the Rotherham Healthy Holidays programme.

Councillor Victoria Cusworth, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “As the number families relying on low incomes continues to rise, we are stepping up our efforts to make sure that nobody in the borough will go hungry. The Covid pandemic made it extremely difficult for some families to make ends meet and we want to do as much as we can to help them.

“The Council first stepped in last October to provide food vouchers to local children during the school holidays when the Government failed to provide the support needed, and we are glad to be able to put the current funding to such an important purpose. Once again, we are extremely grateful to schools for helping to get this support to the families that most need it.

“We will keep pressure on the Government to ensure these are permanent arrangements in the future and, earlier this year, the Council adopted a motion which calls for the right to food to be incorporated into the national food strategy – enshrining in law that nobody in this country should go hungry.”

Published: 7th July 2021