Deadline nears for free school meals summer scheme in which families will get £90 supermarket vouchers following campaign by Marcus Rashford
Families entitled to £90 supermarket gift cards to help feed their children during the summer holidays could have just days left to claim.
The Government has extended the voucher scheme for children eligible for free school meals during the summer in England following a campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford.
The change means that parents, whose children would ordinarily be given a free school meal in term time, will instead receive £15 a week per child to help cover the cost of food shopping bills during the summer holidays.
This totals £90 if their child's school holiday is six weeks, raising to £105 if the holiday is a complete seven-week break.
The vouchers, says the government website, will come in the form of a supermarket eGift card or an eGift code that parents can use to order a card from the supermarket of their choice.
Whilst there is never a deadline for families submitting a request for free school meals, schools ordering the holidays vouchers for their eligible pupils through the Covid Summer Food Fund must do so at least one week before their school term ends.
Kent and Medway schools are due to break for summer on Wednesday, July 22 - meaning that most in the county will be close to submitting final requests. Academies however may have differing term dates.
The government advice to schools reads: "You must order the voucher at least one week before your school term ends, and it will be issued to the family within 7 days unless you have specified a distribution date further in the future. For example, schools closing on 17 July must place orders for all vouchers by 10 July. If you choose a future distribution date, this must be before the end of the school term.
"These dates are in place in recognition that schools operate to different term times and that school offices will be closed in the summer holidays."
In order to be considered for a summer voucher, families must apply to receive free schools meals through the normal channels.
Any family who hasn't applied for free school meals until now for any reason, or parents who have more recently seen their employment or financial circumstances change as a result of the coronavirus pandemic are being encouraged to see if they qualify.
Those likely to be eligible include families receiving Universal Credit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance and Child Tax Credit.
The process, says Kent County Council, is easy and quick. Eligibility is checked and applications processed straight away with schools notified by email immediately to allow children to begin receiving meals within 24 hours. To learn more or to apply for a child in Kent click here.
Families wishing to apply in Medway can do so by clicking here.
Concerns have been raised in Kent this week about families who could experience a change in circumstances mid-way through the summer with one Kent councillor calling for the cut-off point to be looked at and whether an additional scheme could pick up families who initially miss the original cut-off.