Funding for free school meals during holidays welcomed

5:18pm - 10 November 2020

New measures to provide free school meals outside of term-time have been welcomed by North Somerset Council.

The Government has now agreed a £400m winter grants scheme to support poor children and their families.

Of this, £170m will be distributed through councils, with at least 80 per cent earmarked for help with food and bills.

Councils will receive funding from the beginning of December until the end of March 2021.

Cllr Catherine Gibbons, executive member for children's services said: "We welcome this turn-around because, along with my fellow executive members, I was extremely disappointed at the government's previous decision to not supply free school lunch vouchers during the October half term.

“Many families are struggling with the economic impact of coronavirus and will continue to do so while the pandemic is still with us.

“We now wait anxiously for detail on the amount that will come to us, so that we can make sure we have the best way of delivering free school meals and ensure no child misses out.”

During the October school holiday, a number of community groups and businesses across North Somerset stepped in to support families who were struggling.

Cllr Gibbons added: “We have a very willing network of volunteers with a fantastic level of experience and expertise who helped us over half term. They will continue to be on-hand, to offer help if needed.

“We will also ensure that our helplines are ready to answer any queries and will work closely with all our schools.”

North Somerset Council continues to work with community organisations and businesses to ensure that no child in need goes without support.

The council is working to establish a local network of organisations to address food insecurity and poverty and to co-ordinate future responses.

Any individual or organisation which needs support during the coronavirus pandemic can visit www.n-somerset.gov.uk/together for more information.

The Welfare Provision Scheme can give short-term financial help in a crisis. Find out more at www.n-somerset.gov.uk/wps, or call 01934 888 035 or 0800 138 5665, 10am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.

More details about the free school meal holiday voucher scheme are expected soon.