Free school meals voucher scheme opens to orders

Schools can begin ordering free school meal vouchers for eligible pupils, adding to the support available for disadvantaged families.

The online service allows schools to place orders for supermarket gift cards on behalf of parents and carers whose children are eligible for free school meals. Worth £15 a week per child, the scheme means that families can receive codes by email to redeem themselves, or as a gift card provided by post, collection or delivery to families without internet access.

Run through Edenred, the scheme is the same as the now hich ran between March and August last year, with £380 million worth of voucher codes redeemed into supermarket gift cards during that time.

Schools can order vouchers for the four-week period between 18 January and 12 February.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “There should be no doubt in this government’s commitment to free school meals support for children who need the most help. The centrally-funded national voucher scheme gives schools another option in providing that support – but they can of course continue providing locally-arranged solutions or high-quality lunch parcels where this is most convenient for their families. These costs will be reimbursed.

“As was the case over Christmas, vulnerable families will continue to receive meals and other essentials over February half term via councils through the £170 million Covid Winter Grant Scheme launched last year.”

In addition to the national scheme, schools can continue providing free meals to eligible pupils via lunch parcels, through catering suppliers, or via locally arranged solutions.

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