Free school meals holiday vouchers doubled for Christmas

women in shop picking out fruit

Women in a shop picking out fruit - Credit: Getty Images

Families in the Devon County Council area who  receive free school meals will get extra support to help buy food during the Christmas holidays.

Over the past year the council has provided supermarket vouchers worth £15 per child per week of the school holidays to eligible families.

That is being doubled for Christmas with an extra one-off £30 supermarket voucher, so families will receive a £60 voucher per child for the two weeks to help with the additional financial pressure of the festive period. 

Families with children currently receiving benefits-related free school meals can also take part in a free Holiday Activity and Food scheme. It provides enriching activities and nutritious food in a safe and sociable environment for children and young people to develop new skills, try out new experiences, make friends and have fun.

It’s part of a £5 million pound programme the council has organised with money from the government’s Household Support Fund. The scheme, runing until 31 March 2022, can help pay for essentials like emergency boiler and heating repairs and housing costs.

Councillor Roger Croad, cabinet member for communities, said: “It is clear that the coronavirus pandemic is continuing to put a huge financial strain on some people and the effects are likely to be felt for some time still to come.

“It’s no surprise when so many people in Devon work in sectors such as catering, hospitality, leisure, retail and tourism, which were among the hardest hit over the last 18 months.

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“The impact on household budgets means many people are finding it especially difficult now as we move into colder winter months, particularly with the cost of food, energy, water and other essential items.

“In fact more families in Devon are eligible for free school meals for their children than ever before, with numbers soaring during the coronavirus pandemic to the highest levels on record. Nearly 18,500 children in Devon now qualify, which equates to nearly 18.5 per cent per cent of all school children in the county and 2,500 more children than this time last year."

Information on how to access support can be found on the Devon County Council website.

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