Covid Summer Food Fund - details please!

23 June 2020

In response to the Government’s decision to continue the provision of free school meals over the summer holidays, School Food Matters has written to Gavin Williamson.

In a joint letter with Children’s Food Campaign, Food Foundation, Chefs in Schools, and Soil Association’s Food for Life, we wrote to both Secretary of State The Rt Hon Gavin Williamson, and Minister of State for Schools, The Rt Hon Vicky Ford.

In our letter, we congratulated the government for listening to the community and making the vital step to support the more than 1.3 million children who entitled to free school meals, during the summer holidays.

The Government’s decision is a big victory for food and poverty campaigners, but there are still details to be ironed out. We posed four questions to the Ministers:

  1. Will there be a mechanism for families who become eligible for free school meals during the school holidays to apply for support?

  2. Will DfE’s guidance on free school meals for families with no recourse to public funds be updated to reflect the new income threshold and will the extension to entitlement remain in place through the summer holiday?

  3. Will the guidance for Holiday Activity & Food (HAF) programme co-ordinators and advice for parents make it clear that the HAF programme will run alongside, and in addition to, the Covid Summer Food Fund?

  4. Will schools continue to be allowed to choose the best provision for their families during the summer holidays and will schools using alternatives to the voucher scheme be able to claim through the exceptional costs fund, with the fund extended to meet the need? 

We also noted that the national voucher scheme provides a purely financial solution, while catered solutions ensure that families are receiving food prepared by school caterers who understand the importance of a nutritionally-balanced meal. We encouraged the department to ensure the guidance on the Covid Summer Food Fund will signpost to the many excellent resources designed to help families convert vouchers into nutritious meals.

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