A community store that provides free meals to children has spoken out after Norfolk Borough Council decided to stop issuing vouchers for free school meals
A local shop that distributes packed lunches to children has criticized a local council for ending vouchers for free school meals.
The Fairstead Community Shop in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, has spread meals out over the Easter holidays.
Shop worker Emma Brock told the BBC the local council needed a “reality check” to stop free school meal vouchers.
The Government began paying for free school meals during the first Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020.
Footballer Marcus Rashford campaigned for keeping the free school meals, but the government then allowed local councils to decide whether or not to keep the vouchers.
The government had allocated funds for free school meals during the first coronavirus lockdown from March 2020.
A campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford initially kept it going, but the government then left local councils to decide whether to support free school meal vouchers after spending £500m through the Household Support Fund.
What problems have you encountered with the system of free school meals? Let us know in the comments below
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That funding was boosted by £500million in last month’s spring declaration, meaning it will continue to be an option for parents as inflation rises.
Brock said it was “terrible to see families struggling” as Norfolk County Council ended its own voucher scheme.
She added: “They drive 10 miles up the road into Cambridgeshire and they still have their vouchers. I’m angry at the families and hurt.”
Brock said the council needed to “step up and do something for the next holiday season”.
The council told the BBC that anyone who finds themselves in financial difficulties should make a claim on their aid scheme.
Local mum Rachael, who was previously entitled to free school meal vouchers, said: “Fuel, electricity, groceries – all these prices have gone up, but they’re not increasing wages or benefits.
“Everyone has to try and struggle with all those extras and then it gets harder over the holidays when we have to feed them. Emma is a superstar.”
Andrew Proctor, Chairman of Norfolk County Council, said: “The increased cost of living is hitting a lot more people hard now and we understand that.
“We want to help as many as possible who are in financial difficulties. The Government has committed new money to our Hardship Fund and we are creating a new system that will reach a much wider range of people – children and families who are in need; Families with young children, pensioners, people with disabilities, unpaid carers and other vulnerable households in Norfolk.”
Is my child entitled to free school meals?
Entitlement to free school meals varies slightly between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as each nation sets its own rules.
However, children from households claiming the following support are typically eligible between the ages of 4 and 16:
- social care
- Income-related unemployment benefit
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Assistance under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- The guaranteed element of the pension balance
- Child tax credit (provided you are not also entitled to a work tax credit and your annual income does not exceed £16,190)
- Ongoing Labor Tax Credit – Paid for four weeks after you stop qualifying for a Labor Tax Credit
- Universal Credit – if you applied on or after 1 April 2018 your household income is less than £7,400 a year (after tax and excluding benefits you receive)
In England, all pupils in the first, first and second grades can receive free school meals during the school year in state schools, regardless of income.
In Scotland, children in primary school, grades one, two and three are entitled to free school meals, regardless of family income.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/local-shop-offering-free-lunches-26686979 Local business offering free lunches after council scrapped free school meal vouchers