Holiday school meal vouchers return for the Christmas Holidays

Communities / Thu 8th Dec 2022 at 01:45pm

FREE school meal vouchers will be available for around 50,000 eligible pupils across Essex this Christmas Holiday (21 December- 4 January) thanks to renewed funding from the Department for Work and Pensions.  

The funding of £1.5m has been allocated by the County Council from the Household Support Fund grant. The fund aims to support those in most need this winter with the cost of food, energy, water bills and other essentials.

The scheme will be coordinated by Wonde, a national provider of free school meal vouchers.

Vouchers will be sent to parents of eligible children and young people via their school, college or early years setting before the holidays start. They are worth £15 a week per child and can be used to buy food in most supermarkets.

In addition, this December through the ActivAte Programme there will be 223 clubs, trips and family Christmas experiences available, offering fun physical activity, food education and healthy meals, with 48 of the clubs offering special support for SEND pupils or mental wellbeing support. The clubs are open to young people eligible for free school meals, as well as children from working families who may be struggling financially and require extra childcare support.

Cllr Louise McKinlay, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Community, Equality, Partnerships and Performance, said: “Extending free school meals into the holidays makes such a difference to families, particularly with many struggling with the rise in living costs this Christmas.

“Through holiday free school meals and the children’s food and activity clubs we want to ensure children and young people in our county can enjoy nutritious food and fun activities during their break, whilst also helping to alleviate financial and childcare pressures for families.”

“Our free school meals scheme is part of our wider response to the cost of living crisis. We understand the challenges many are faced with, and tackling this crisis is a key priority for us so people have access to the food, heating and essential items they need.

“We have already launched a number of initiatives and more are on the way. If residents need support this winter I would urge them to take a look on our website to see what is available or get in touch with us.”

Support for residents including help with heating costs, foodbanks, and help with Household essentials can be found here- www.essex.gov.uk/cost-of-living

To find out what ActiVate clubs and christmas experiences are happening visit: www.activeessex.org/children-young-people/essex-activate/activate-your-winter/  

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