Schools now have access to supermarket vouchers to give to families whose children are entitled to free school meals.
Schools can now provide a weekly shopping voucher worth £15 to spend at supermarkets while classes are closed due to coronavirus.
Schools can continue to provide meals for collection or delivery themselves, but where this is not possible, the scheme will allow them to provide vouchers to families electronically, or as a gift card for those without internet access.
The vouchers can be spent on food at a range of shops including Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Waitrose and M&S, with the Department working to get more shops to join the scheme as soon as possible.
Parents will receive the voucher through their child’s school, which can then be redeemed online via a code, or sent to their house as a gift card and used at the supermarket.
Today (Tuesday 31 March) schools will be emailed by the Department for Education’s chosen supplier, Edenred. They will then either be able to:
Order vouchers individually online and have a code sent via email to each family. The family can then show the code on their phone at the supermarket; or
Arrange a bulk order of multiple codes and receive an excel spreadsheet to help schools organise sending on to a family, or create an eGift card for a preferred supermarket to be posted to a family if parents cannot get online.
The value of vouchers available per eligible child per week exceeds the rate paid to schools for free school meals, recognising that families will not be buying food in bulk and may therefore incur higher costs.
‘No child should go hungry’
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “I recognise that the unprecedented action this Government is taking to protect the country from coronavirus, including closing schools, is dramatically affecting the lives of many families.
“I want to thank schools for the support they are continuing to provide to families during such uncertain times.
“No child should go hungry as a result of the measures introduced to keep people at home, protect the NHS and save lives. That’s why we are launching this scheme to make sure children who usually benefit from free school meals still have access to healthy and nutritious meals while they are not attending school.”
The Department for Education has also published new guidance on free school meals to help schools and parents prepare.