The families of more than 11,000 local children entitled to free school meals will again receive help in the form supermarket food vouchers this October half term.
Individual schools will manage the distribution of the vouchers, worth £15 per child, on behalf of Rotherham Council.
The number of children in Rotherham entitled to free school meals has increased by more than a quarter since the start of the pandemic, up from 8,557 (January 2020) to over 11,000.
The Council has once again agreed to step in to provide the support, as it has for every school holiday over the last 12 months. The cost of the scheme will be met by £2.5m from the Hardship Support Fund – part of one-off government grant support for Rotherham to provide temporary respite for families most severely impacted by the recent £20 per week reduction in Universal Credit, which came into force at the end of September.
Further proposals will be considered by the Council’s Cabinet in due course.
Councillor Victoria Cusworth, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services at Rotherham Council said: “It’s in everyone’s interest that all Rotherham’s children are well fed, able to learn and engage in school, and live their lives to the full.
“For some of our families this scheme has been a lifeline over the last 12 months and we know that right now many local families are really feeling the pinch. Whilst the government has not heeded the call made by councillors at our recent meeting to protect the Universal Credit uplift, they have provided some one-off funding and we are acting as quickly as we can to once against ensure that reaches those who need it.”
The Council will provide funding directly to schools to cover the cost of the vouchers, with schools organising distribution to the families of eligible children.
The Council is extremely grateful, once again, for the continued support of the Rotherham schools community in helping to deliver this scheme.
Images: NHS Rotherham