Government issues guidance on free school meals plan

Free school meals

The government has issued some guidance on how children who are eligible for free school meals will be offered vouchers, food or meals to make sure they continue receiving this support, even if they are no longer attending school due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The guidance for schools gives them the flexibility to provide meals or shop vouchers for families with children entitled to free school meals.

Schools will be able to provide meals or vouchers for supermarkets or local shops, which can be sent directly to families who are either self-isolating at home or whose schools are closed on government advice. This follows the Education Secretary’s announcement yesterday (March 18) that schools will be closed from Monday until further notice, except for children of key workers and vulnerable children.

The Government has also confirmed that the total value of vouchers offered to each eligible child per week will exceed the rate it pays to schools for free school meals, recognising that families will not be buying food in bulk and may therefore incur higher costs.

The guidance for schools states they can choose to support eligible children however they believe is most appropriate and headteachers can decide which of the available options will be best for families in their area.

The measures will be effective immediately, schools will be able to order vouchers directly from supermarkets or shops in their communities to be emailed or printed and posted to families, and they will have their costs covered by the Department for Education.

A national approach to providing these supermarket and shop vouchers is being developed. Further details, including the total values being provided, will be provided shortly via the published guidance.

At Hartsdown arrangements have been made for Tescos to provide corporate cards for parents. The school will top these up weekly until the government’s plans kick in.

Isle schools have also set up online learning pages and packs.

We will update as more details become available.

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