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Free school meals and support for families to continue over summer

Covid-19 / Sun 18th Jul 2021 at 07:00am

A FINAL £3.6m Covid Local Support Grant from central government is being used to provide free school meals over the summer holidays and extra support for families hit by the pandemic.

Essex County Council (ECC) has allocated £2.6m to continue the holiday free school meal vouchers scheme it has run successfully since Christmas 2020. Vouchers will be sent direct to parents of eligible children and young people by their school, college or early years setting before the holidays start. They are worth £15 a week per child for four weeks and can be used to buy food in most supermarkets.

Parents can find out more at Free school meals – Essex County Council.

The rest of the grant will continue support for families who need extra help until the end of September as follows:

  • £200,000 to the Essential Living Fund, which provides emergency grants for food, heating, energy and water bills and essential household goods. See Money, debt and benefits: Emergency money and food – Essex County Council
  • £300,000 for targeted family support and childcare delivered through locally trusted organisations
  • £160,283 to expand Essex ActivAte, the successful holiday food and activities programme run by Active Essex in partnership with ECC. This offers free face-to-face clubs for children and young people who are eligible for benefits-based free school meals. The clubs give children and young people the chance to socialise, join in fun and creative activities and enjoy nutritious food. See Essex Activate | Active Essex.
  • £185,000 to support homeless people and rough sleepers who need help to get food and essential items such as toiletries.
  • £150,000 for grants to local initiatives nominated by Essex County Councillors that provide food or help with household essentials to vulnerable people in the councillor’s division (2).

Cllr Louise McKinlay, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Community, Equality, Partnerships and Performance, said: “The future is looking brighter but the pandemic isn’t over, so we are grateful to the government for this Covid support grant and to the many local groups who are helping us use it to continue to provide vital support to those who need it most.

“Through holiday free school meals, the children’s food and activity clubs, help for homeless people, emergency grants and targeted support, we want to ensure children and young people can enjoy nutritious food and fun activities, alongside helping families feeling the financial strain to pay their bills and look forward with hope.”

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