Bath & North East Somerset Council has pledged to provide free school meal vouchers to eligible children this Christmas following the government’s decision to stop funding free school meals during the holidays.
There are currently more than 4,000 children in Bath and North East Somerset who receive means-tested free school meals.
Councillor Kevin Guy, cabinet member for Children’s Services, today said: “I am pleased to confirm that we have committed to funding Free School Meals vouchers for Christmas 2020, for February half term and for the Easter 2021 school holidays.
“Since our meeting last week we have agreed to set up a voucher scheme. In addition I am delighted that so far £56,000 has been raised through the local giving holiday hunger appeal which 3SG and St John’s Foundation will be allocating to organisations in Bath & North East Somerset tackling holiday hunger.”
“Children in Bath and North East Somerset will not go without food during school holidays – especially at Christmas.
“While the Government allocated funds earlier this year under the Covid-19 local authority emergency assistance grant for food and essential supplies this did not cover Free School Meals.
“This meant we have had find additional funding to pay for Free School Meal vouchers to cover the holidays and we have been working to do this since our emergency talks last week.
“In addition I am lobbying central government for additional funding for Free School Meals and have the support of the Children, Adult, Health and Wellbeing PDS panel which voted to make representation to Government on FSM as a statutory body.”
Details of the voucher scheme will be made available in coming weeks. Support that already exists for families includes:
- B&NES Welfare Support: The council’s welfare support scheme which provides help to residents in extreme financial difficulties including foodbank vouchers. Contact email@example.com or by calling the Welfare Support Team on 01225 477 277. This service is normally available Monday to Friday between 9am and 4.30pm and 4pm on Fridays.
- The Compassionate Communities Hub. You can access support via the helpline on 0300 247 0050 which operates Monday – Friday 9am to 5pm.
- The Sustainable Food Partnership https://www.3sg.org.uk/pages/sustainable-food-partnership The Sustainable Food Partnership Food Directory advises Food Clubs and Pantries providing affordable food or emergency food parcels.
- St John’s Foundation Holiday Food Grant Programme. The programme was jointly funded by Feeding Britain and St John’s Foundation and orchestrated by Bath & North East Somerset Council, as part of its Food Poverty Steering Group. Grants enabled charities and statutory services in Bath and North East Somerset to deliver support to families with children at risk of hunger and malnutrition.
- FOOD Clubs and Pantries: Community groups, churches, charities and Family Centres are being supported by Bath & North East Somerset Council to help families on low incomes access high quality affordable food. A network of FOOD Clubs and Pantries has opened in key locations across the district to supply low cost food to those in need. Details of FOOD Clubs and Pantries across Bath and North East Somerset are available by visiting: http://banesfoodfinder.org.uk/listing/food-clubs-pantries