Updated guidance on school meals during lockdown

8 February 2021
New government guidance has been published suggesting schools may wish to use their free school meal funding to support their caterers and food suppliers. Plus, another supermarket has joined the national voucher scheme.

Ongoing national lockdowns have caused serious disruption to the school food supply chain. As the government and schools have adapted to ensure pupils can still access food, suppliers have faced challenges with the rapid changes in demand.

The Government has pledged to continue providing schools with their funding to cover benefits-related free school meals (FSM) and universal infant free school meals (UIFSM) throughout lockdown. The latest guidance supports catering teams by reminding schools to continue making payments to suppliers considered to be at risk, even if there are disruptions to the service. Such payments should be solely for the costs of FSM and UIFSM and could be used, for example, to cover food that has already been purchased by suppliers. Free school meal funding should also cover the cost of providing food parcels for FSM children at home.

For transparency, schools will need to agree with caterers to act on an open book basis and make cost data available. The guidance states that relief payments must not be used to cover costs associated with furloughed staff or to create profits on undelivered activity during this period.  They’ll also need to agree an exit strategy from the temporary operating model, into a more sustainable one.

Meanwhile, the national voucher scheme from Edenred has also been extended to include supermarket Farmfoods. 

The full guidance can be found here.