MP Robert Halfon welcomes government decision to provide free school meal vouchers over summer holidays, after campaign by Marcus Rashford

News / Tue 16th Jun 2020 at 12:55pm

FOLLOWING an impassioned letter to the Government sent by Manchester United footballer, Marcus Rashford, and weeks of campaigning by Harlow MP Robert Halfon, the Government has agreed to extend the free school meal voucher scheme over the summer holidays.

The footballer’s letter sparked support from families and MPs right across the country. Robert Halfon MP has been a strong voice for the extension of free school meal vouchers throughout the pandemic and questioned the Education Secretary and Ministers on the provision of the £15-a-week vouchers during his Committee sessions, as part of an inquiry into Covid-19’s impact on education.

On 5 June, Mr Halfon also wrote to the Children’s Minister calling for the vouchers to be offered to families over the summer and his Committee pressed the need for financial support for parents to provide meals to their children in a further letter.

He had even spoken publicly this morning to say that he would have voted with the opposition to support the extension of free school meals over the summer holidays.

More than 10.3 million weekly £15 allowances are currently being distributed to eligible families amid the school closures. Free school meals are not usually provided over the school holidays but it is understood that the Government recognised this is an “unprecedented situation” demanding special support for families.

Mr Halfon said: “I am absolutely thrilled that the Government has listened and will be providing free school meal vouchers over the summer holidays, in an unprecedented step.

“I have campaigned for some weeks now, writing at the start of June to the Children’s Minister to call for an extension to the scheme on behalf of Harlow residents. My Committee and I have also been pressing this in letters to the Government and in our questioning of Ministers and the Education Secretary.

“This is absolutely the right decision from the Government. Families across Harlow and around the country are facing real financial hardship during this crisis and we know that providing food, activities and childcare over the upcoming summer holidays can be a source of worry for many parents.

“These vouchers will offer families a lifeline and help put a stop to holiday hunger. I am really grateful to Marcus Rashford for highlighting the importance of this issue and for the work of the Prime Minister, Education Secretary and Children’s Minister for making this a reality.”

Marcus Rashford recently tweeted his support for the Government’s decision: “I don’t even know what to say. Just look at what we can do when we come together, THIS is England in 2020.”

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