Northamptonshire councils to fund free meals during school holidays

As reported by BBC news, about 20,000 children in a county will be able to receive food vouchers in October half-term and at Christmas

Both North Northamptonshire and West Northamptonshire councils agreed to the scheme for those eligible for free school meals. The government had provided vouchers for the children during the pandemic but stopped earlier this year. Jason Smithers, leader of North Northamptonshire Council, said it was for those “in most need of our help”. The £15-per-week vouchers will be distributed to those eligible by their schools.

North Northamptonshire Council said about 10,000 pupils could receive free school meals in the area, while West Northamptonshire Council said its scheme would support 9,500 children. Children are entitled to the vouchers if their household income is less than £7,400, excluding benefits, or if they receive certain welfare payments. Most children on free school meals are at state-funded primary schools and they have traditionally been provided in term time only. But many councils created their own meal schemes during the last summer holiday, after the government provided vouchers during the first lockdown and some holidays in 2020.

Scott Edwards, the councillor responsible for children, families, and education on the Conservative-led North Northamptonshire Council, said the scheme had “already made a big difference for many pupils”.

“Christmas can be an expensive time for families and I’m proud that North Northamptonshire Council can provide a helping hand,” he said.

Fiona Baker, from the Conservative-led West Northamptonshire Council, said: “With winter approaching, we could yet see another wave of COVID, and low-income families might also be hit by the increase in heating costs.

“I’m pleased to give families one less thing to worry about this winter.”

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