Around 10,000 local families with children who are entitled to free school meals are set to receive supermarket vouchers to be spent on food for the Easter school holidays through a Rotherham Council scheme.
This will be the fourth successive school holiday that the Council has provided a scheme to support local families.
Food vouchers to the value of £30 will be issued for each eligible child to cover the two week break – roughly the same amount it costs to provide children with a free meal in school. The vouchers can be redeemed at local supermarkets.
The Council’s Cabinet is set to approve the funding for the scheme at its meeting on 22 March.
Once again, the Council is working in partnership with local schools, who will distribute the vouchers to eligible families on its behalf. The Council is grateful for the support of schools in helping to get this support to families who most need it.
Councillor Gordon Watson, Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Neighbourhood Working, said: “We know that some families in Rotherham are really struggling to make ends meet, something which the Covid pandemic has exacerbated further.
“Inspired by Marcus Rashford’s campaign to end food poverty in this country, the Council stepped in last October to provide food vouchers to local children during the school holidays when the Government announced that it wasn’t continuing with the support it had previously provided.
“Although the Government has now u-turned on its original position and is providing funding for food for children during school holidays, we need to keep the pressure on to ensure these are permanent arrangements and the Council recently adopted a motion which calls for the right to food to be incorporated into the national food strategy – enshrining in law that nobody in this country should go hungry.”
As part of the Government’s COVID roadmap, announced on 22 February 2021, the COVID Winter Grant Scheme has been extended to the 16 April, providing an additional £59.1m across England of extra targeted financial support for those in need during the pandemic. The funding is provided under the same grant conditions as the original allocation. Rotherham has been allocated an additional £350,218.
In addition to the proposed voucher scheme, the Council’s Early Help Team has been contacting families in receipt of free school meals to see if they would also like to take part in the Holiday Activities and Food initiative, which entitles a family to a food and activity box. The date for applications has now closed and the packs will be distributed to families at the end of the month.
With Covid restrictions still in place, the Easter holiday activities will be hosted online and can be accessed daily from 27th March via the Rotherham Early Help North, Rotherham Early Help Central and Rotherham Early Help South Facebook Pages. The activities programme is free and open to all children, young people and families to take part in.
Images: NHS Rotherham