SCC Free School Meal boxes Briefing - 13 January 2021
In recent days, a story about the amount of food being provided under the Free School Meals programme has been highlighted on social media.
Further guidance and announcements from the Department for Education have been made today about the reimbursement of vouchers and a contribution to catering providers.
Below is some information about the situation in Surrey.
• Throughout this pandemic, Surrey County Council (SCC) has worked hard to ensure that young people across Surrey are properly fed and cared for. We know many families are struggling financially and that hunger has a huge impact on a child’s wellbeing, learning and development.
• Over the two-week Christmas holidays, SCC ensured that all Surrey schools were able to distribute food vouchers to families with children eligible for Free Schools Meals, using the Covid Winter Grant funding received from government. SCC intends to do the same over the February half term and Easter holidays.
• Despite the sudden announcement of school closures last week, all schools, nurseries, and colleges must continue supporting children eligible for Free School Meals who are now at home during term time.
• SCC supports the flexibility for schools to choose to use either a local or a national supermarket voucher scheme, rather than provide a food parcel, where that is best for the family and child.
• Schools will be reimbursed for up to £15 per week per voucher. We know that for many families, a £15 weekly food voucher provides them with greater choice and value than a food parcel, and empowers them to feed their children well. Families should be supported in every way possible to provide healthy meals for their children.
• For schools that chose to provide food parcels to pupils who are at home, the quality and quantity of that offer must meet children’s nutritional needs, equivalent to a school lunch. Schools providing booster boxes have now been provided with extra government support to distribute any food parcels.
• Catering suppliers should also support parents with things like recipe advice and meal planning each week, as many are – an example meal plan and video for parents is attached. Also included is a photo of the supplies – the eagle-eyed amongst you will note that the cheese and cucumber are missing from the shot but they are provided in this pack.
• The funding to make £15 available either for vouchers or food parcels should enable all schools to secure high-quality food provision for children and ensure no child in Surrey goes hungry.
• The SCC Member for Lifelong Learning, Cllr Julie Iles, and new Executive Director for Children, Families, and Learning, Rachael Wardell, will shortly be visiting a food parcel supply hub to see the parcel contents and delivery operations for themselves.
• SCC will continue to support schools and parents wherever possible to ensure our young people are adequately fed and cared for during this already difficult time.