M&S top up government's £15 free school meal vouchers to £20 to give children breakfast as well
M&S has said it will top up the government's £15 free school meal vouchers by an additional £5 a week.
The move, says the food store, is to enable families, entitled to claim free school meals, to give their children both breakfast and lunchtime meals.
The government's free school meals scheme giving families hampers whilst their children are not at school came under fire last week when parents began sharing 'wholly inadequate' food parcels, which were critisised for not meeting the budgeted value of £15 for one child or £30 for two.
Since then ministers have confirmed that the scheme will go back to giving families food vouchers instead of hampers, to enable them to purchase their own items for their children entitled to free school meals.
The M&S Food scheme to give children an additional meal a day has been welcomed by free school meals campaigner and footballer Marcus Rashford MBE.
He said: "As a child, I relied on breakfast clubs to kick start my day the right way. Breakfast is so important to guarantee children have the ability to engage in learning, and to flourish within the education system, to go on to succeed at whatever they choose to do in life.
"I thank M&S for taking the strong initiative to support the uplift of the vouchers to cover an essential meal of the day and I'm confident we will see a great response from those most vulnerable."
Alongside allowing families to redeem their £15 school meals voucher for a £20 M&S food card, the retailer has also put together a downloadable weekly meal plan to help families prepare five simple but nutritious breakfasts and lunches for under £20.
M&S’ senior in-house nutritionist, Laura Street has developed the downloadable breakfast and lunch planner at www.marksandspencer.com/lunchplanner and includes hints, tips and mealtime inspiration for ten meals for two children, all with minimal food preparation and includes family favourites such as porridge with fruit, eggs and soldiers, flour tortilla pizzas with salad and tomato pasta.
She said: "“Learning via Zoom will be challenging for many children, but we know eating regular, balanced meals throughout the day can really help aid concentration. Parents are keeping enough plates spinning right now, so we’ve worked up an example meal planner and shopping list to offer some inspiration and help to keep meals varied and nutritionally balanced throughout the week.
"The meal planner shows how to feed two children five breakfasts and five lunches for £20. And, as well as covering the cost of a daily breakfast, the extra £5 has allowed us to add additional fruit and vegetables to the planner too.”
M&S has food stores across Kent including in Medway, Sittingbourne, Aylesford, Bluewater, Canterbury. Thanet, Maidstone and Ashford.
To claim the £20 from M&S parents need to exchange their free school meals voucher eCode for an M&S eGift card at www.selectyourcompliment.co.uk/grocery . The £15 e-voucher will automatically be loaded with an additional £5, making this a £20 M&S e-voucher to spend on food in store.