Free school meals
Volunteer army mobilises
An army of parents, teachers and volunteers will mobilise next week to try to ensure that children who rely on free school meals do not go hungry while schools are closed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The government has said that low-income families whose children are ordinarily eligible for the meals will be offered vouchers, food or meals, even if they are no longer attending schools closed from today.
About 1.3 million children in England who come from the most disadvantaged families currently benefit from a free school lunch.
Feeding Britain, an independent charity working to combat hunger and food poverty in the UK, is working with councils, schools, caterers and voluntary organisations on contingency planning. In some areas, a core group of schools will aim to offer hot meals for parents to collect and take home, while others will offer a cold food service.
Where schools cannot offer a collection service, food will be transported to a community centre as an alternative collection point. For the most vulnerable families who might not be able to collect their own food, Feeding Britain is trying to initiate home delivery.
Proposals are also being developed to include the following day’s breakfast ingredients in food parcels as additional support.
Andrew Forsey, national director of Feeding Britain, called on schools to continue to play a role in ensuring children get fed during the crisis: “Where much of the public concern has been directed towards what will happen to free school lunches, we know that large numbers of children also rely on a school breakfast. When schools do have to close, that’s two separate meals a day which they will lose.”