Free school meal vouchers will be issued from schools, giving £15 a week per eligible child to spend on food at supermarkets.
While schools are closed due to the coronavirus, the government realises that some children will be missing out on their free school meals.
The government gives £11.50 to schools per child per week.
But, the school can bulk buy at big discounts, so the government are giving a higher amount to parents of £15 a week for every eligible child.
Free school meal vouchers
Schools are now able to provide children who are eligible for free school meals with a weekly shopping voucher worth £15 to spend at the supermarkets.
This voucher will be available for children each week while the schools are closed due to coronavirus.
Vouchers can be sent out by the school to your email. If someone doesn’t have internet access, gift cards will also be available.
You’re able to use the voucher to spend online, by using a special code.
Alternatively, if you’re shopping in store, you can show a code via your phone when you’re at the till.
The email will come from your child’s school directly. You will not need to enter any of your bank details – please look to avoid any coronavirus related scam emails.
The vouchers can be spent on food at a range of different shops.
You can swap the voucher for food at Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Waitrose and M&S.
The government is also looking to get more shops to join the free meal voucher scheme soon.
Free food, not a voucher
Not all school are offering the vouchers, but are instead continuing to give meals.
Some school will deliver the food to the child’s home, but some parents may be asked to collect the lunch themselves.
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.”
Apply for free school meals
There’s an estimated that some 1.3 million children currently get free meals at school.
If you claim certain benefits, you may be able to claim for free school meals, if you don’t already have them.
To be eligible for free school meals for your child, you need to get any of the following:
- Income Support
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- the guaranteed element of Pension Credit
- Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
- Working Tax Credit run-on – paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
- Universal Credit – if you apply on or after 1 April 2018 your household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get)
You can apply here.
Infant free school meals in England
The free school meals vouchers are only if you receive certain benefits.
The vouchers are not the same as the government-funded school meals for children in infant classes (reception, year 1 or year 2).
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