Schools can begin ordering free school meal vouchers for eligible pupils this week as the Government’s national scheme launched on18th January, adding to the support available for disadvantaged families.
An online service for schools, the scheme (which also ran between March and August last year) allows schools to place orders for supermarket gift cards on behalf of parents and carers whose children are eligible for free school meals. The vouchers are worth £15 a week per child and families can receive codes by email to redeem themselves, or as a gift card provided by post, collection or delivery to families without internet access.
For more information for schools or parents, please visit: www.gov.uk/government/news/national-free-school-meals-voucher-scheme-opens-to-orders
Schools can choose what's best
In addition to the national scheme, schools can continue providing free meals to eligible pupils via lunch parcels, through catering suppliers, or via locally arranged solutions. This might include vouchers for a local shop or supermarket not currently included in the national scheme.
February half term arrangements
During February half term, disadvantaged families will continue to receive meals and other essentials through the Covid Winter Grant Scheme as they did during the Christmas holidays. Launched in November last year, and being administered through Dorset Council, the Grant Scheme is helping families struggling with the costs of fuel and food and is ringfenced, and will support families until the end of March 2021.
The quality of school food parcels
This week on Monday 18th January, there were two ‘opposition day’ debates in the House of Commons – the first on Universal Credit and the second on the quality of free school meals. I just want to give you confidence that the quality of food being provided to children locally in West Dorset is of very good quality, as the Facebook post (and photo below) from one of our local schools in Dorchester demonstrates.
CHRIS LODER MP