THE free school meals voucher scheme has reopened today to help millions of children.
The vouchers are worth £15 a week per child, and families can receive codes by email or as a gift card provided by post, collection or delivery to families without internet access.
The free school meals voucher scheme has reopened today to help millions of children (stock image)Credit: Getty Images – Getty
The national scheme, run through Edenred, also ran between March and August last year, with £380 million worth of voucher codes redeemed.
“The centrally-funded national voucher scheme gives schools another option in providing that support – but they can of course continue providing locally-arranged solutions or high-quality lunch parcels where this is most convenient for their families. These costs will be reimbursed.
“As was the case over Christmas, vulnerable families will continue to receive meals and other essentials over February half term via councils through the £170 million Covid Winter Grant Scheme launched last year.”
Schools can order vouchers for the four-week period between January 18 and February 12 from today.
As of this afternoon, more than 4,600 orders have been placed by schools through the scheme, worth a total of £9.18million.
This means that parents will be able to get £20 worth of food in total, which M&S says will help kids get a free breakfast too.
The state-backed vouchers are issued to low income families whose children usually benefit from free school meals to help pay for lunches while they’re closed due to England’s national lockdown.
The giftcard will automatically be loaded with the extra £5 which you can spend it in store.
You can get an extra £5 in free school meal vouchers at M&SCredit: Reuters
How can I apply for free school meal vouchers?
HOW you claim the free school meals depends on where you live.
For example, you can either get a form to fill in from your school, call your local council or fill in an online form.
Start by entering your postcode into the Gov.uk website to see what the process is in your area.
It’s worth pointing out that if you claim housing benefit or council tax support you can apply for free school meals when you are filling out your forms.
Aldi, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda, Morrison’s, Iceland, the Company Shop Group, Waitrose, McColls and M&S have signed up to the scheme.
After you’ve loaded up your basket, simply go to the checkout and hand over the voucher.
He said he relied on free breakfasts as a child and said he was “confident” there will be a “great response from those most vulnerable”.
He added: “Education is the most effective means of breaking cycles of hardship in some respects but education is only achievable with strong engagement and concentration.
“Unfortunately for the majority, hunger does not allow that. I thank M&S for taking the strong initiative to support the uplift of the vouchers to cover an essential meal of the day.”
M&S has also put together a breakfast and lunch planner you can use to give you inspiration for preparing meals.
You can download the planner here, and meals include porridge, homemade pizzas and tomato pasta.
The voucher boost will be welcomed by families after a week of free school meal crises.
A fresh row over free school meals yesterday, with schools being told not to provide meal vouchers to families during the February half-term.
The Department of Education said that schools do not need to dole out the vouchers to kids – and parents will have to apply to the £170million Winter Grant Scheme instead.
Following the backlash, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson slammed the packages to be a “scandal and disgrace”.
He said parents will be able to use the Free School Meals voucher programme again from Monday to shop for their kids’ lunches themselves.
Piers Morgan came to blows with Matt Hancock earlier this week after he refused to say he regrets voting against free school meals during lockdown seven times.
Want to know how to apply for free school meals during lockdown? We have all the details in this guide.
And after a disastrous week for free school meals, The Sun shows you how you can feed your kids ten lunches for less than £30 – and they certainly won’t go hungry.