West Berkshire Council to provide for Free School Meals during school summer holidays
West Berkshire Council is extending its Free School Meal voucher scheme into the school summer holiday period (25 days in total) for eligible children. The £294,075 programme will provide vouchers for 3,921 children across the district and support families in need as the district recovers from the pandemic.
The programme is being funded through West Berkshire's allocation of £262,483 from the national COVID Local Grant Support Scheme* that the government is extending for a third and final time up until September, along with a top up of £31,592 from a separate Covid fund managed by the Council.
The vouchers will be available to families whose children would normally receive free school meals during term time and will be issued by schools with the support of the Council's Education team. Children in school not currently receiving free school meals but considered by the school as vulnerable will be included.
Given that the government's COVID Local Grant Support Scheme is not being extended beyond the summer, this will be the final round of free school meal voucher provision outside of term time as the country moves back to business as usual from September onwards.
This final COVID Local Support Grant is in addition to the Holiday Activities and Food programme that the Council will be running this summer to provide disadvantaged children across the district with healthy meals and enriching activities. Details of this programme will be announced separately.
Councillor Lynne Doherty, Leader of West Berkshire Council, said: "We are pleased to be able to extend Free School Meal vouchers into school summer holidays to help families get back on their feet as the economy recovers and the vaccine rollout continues.
"Additionally we are continuing to focus on supporting job creation, providing appropriate guidance and support to those facing financial difficulties and helping to boost the local economy through our economic development and Covid recovery strategies.
* The DWP COVID Local Support Grant was formerly known as the DWP COVID Winter Grant Scheme. Allocations from this Scheme, plus additional top-ups from other Covid support funding, were administered by the Council to pay for Free School Meals over the school holidays for Christmas 2020 as well as the February, Easter and May holidays this year. The COVID Winter Grant Scheme also helped families and individuals economically disadvantaged by the pandemic to pay for food, utility bills, and essential supplies.