Free school meals to be rolled out in Herts over school holidays

PUBLISHED: 11:17 18 November 2020 | UPDATED: 11:17 18 November 2020

Herts County Council has pledged to provide meal vouchers for children entitled to free school meals over holidays. Picture:Michael Penty

Herts County Council has pledged to provide meal vouchers for children entitled to free school meals over holidays. Picture:Michael Penty

MichaelPenty

Free school meals are set to be distributed over school holidays in Hertfordshire until the end of summer half term 2021.

Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford has been campaigning to help those entitled to free school meals. Picture: MIKE EGERTON/PA WIRE/PA IMAGESManchester United footballer Marcus Rashford has been campaigning to help those entitled to free school meals. Picture: MIKE EGERTON/PA WIRE/PA IMAGES

This comes following an extraordinary meeting of Hertfordshire County Council yesterday morning.

The council will be providing food vouchers to the value of £15 per week for each child in the county that receives free school meals during the school holidays from Christmas 2020 to summer half term 2021.

Cllr David Williams, leader of the council, said: “We have always said that no child or vulnerable household should go hungry during this pandemic and the money from government will help us deliver on that pledge.

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“Thanks to our effective financial management and strong lobbying of government I am delighted that we have been able to secure sufficient funds to support those in need.

“We also welcome the government’s Holiday Activities and Food Programme for the Easter, summer and Christmas 2021 school holidays and the opportunity that this will provide to build on the innovative Fit, Fed and Read Programme that has been delivered since 2018 in conjunction with Hertfordshire Sports Partnership.”

Although the Lib Dem motion, which received Labour support, was voted down, another was passed by the Conservatives that gave a commitment to carry on support during school holidays up to the end of the summer half term holidays.

The county council also agreed to a special combined meeting of its children, young people’s and education panels on November 26, to discuss and scrutinise the details of the support for children and vulnerable families as to the need for free school meals. The executive member for children’s services Councillor Teresa Heritage also committed to establish a dedicated scrutiny topic group to look into the need for free school meals.

Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst said: “This meeting showed that child poverty is now, as Marcus Rashford and Henry Dimbleby and others have highlighted, a critical policy area that this and future governments must now address. The meeting made the ruling Conservatives do something about it. Without this meeting being called I doubt that this would have occurred. This meeting has brought this area into the public’s mind and rightly so.”


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