Free school meal voucher scheme being launched

The families of eligible children are entitled to a weekly free school meals shopping voucher during

The families of eligible children are entitled to a weekly free school meals shopping voucher during the coronavirus lockdown. Picture: Getty - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A national voucher scheme has been launched to provide free school meals.

Children who are eligible for the meals will benefit from the scheme as it allows them to continue to have access while they stay at home.

Schools across the country can provide each child who is eligible with a weekly shopping voucher worth £15 to spend at supermarkets while schools are closed because of coronavirus.

The vouchers can be spent on food at a variety of shops including Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Waitrose and M&S.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said: “No child should go hungry as a result of the measures introduced to keep people at home, protect the NHS and save lives.

“That’s why we are launching this scheme to make sure children who usually benefit from free school meals still have access to healthy and nutritious meals while they are not attending school.”

Schools were emailed by the Department of Education’s chosen supplier on March 31.

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Then the schools should be able to order vouchers individually online and have a code sent via email to each family.

The family can then show the code on their phone at the supermarket or arrange a bulk order of multiple codes and receive an Excel spreadsheet to help schools organise sending on to a family, or create an eGift card for a preferred supermarket to be posted to a family if parents cannot get online.

Gavin Williamson added: “I recognise the unprecedented action this Government is taking to protect the country from coronavirus, including closing schools, is affecting the lives of many families.

“I want to thank schools for the support they are continuing to provide to families during such uncertain times.”

The total value of vouchers available per eligible child per week exceeds the rate paid to schools for free school meals, recognising that families will not be buying food in bulk and may therefore incur higher costs.

The vouchers are part of the Government’s commitment to provide ongoing support for the 1.3 million children who would normally receive benefits-related free school meals when they are at school.