03/11/2022 - Permalink

Free school meals holiday support extended until end of spring term

Related topics: Children's services / Finance and budget

Children in receipt of benefits-related free school meals in Shropshire will now continue to receive support with food costs during the school holidays until the end of the spring term 2023.

Each child who receives free school meals will receive £15 a week towards the cost of a school meal equivalent throughout the two-week Christmas school holidays and the February 2023 half-term holiday. Support was provided for the October half-term holiday, giving four weeks of support in total.

Most of this support will be through a voucher to spend at a local supermarket, distributed via the childrens’ early years setting, school or college.

It is estimated that around 7,500 children in Shropshire get free school meals and the council has decided to use around £450,000 from the £2.1 million of Household Support Fund money from Government for the period October 2022 to March 2023 to support those most in need. Councils can choose how to spend this money to support low income families in need.

Extending the free school meal support forms part of the council’s help with the cost of living, following rises in energy costs and inflation hitting many households, particularly those on low incomes.

Gwilym Butler, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for finance, who is overseeing the council’s response to the cost of living, said:

“It’s only right that we have chosen to use this funding to help those children who are most in need.

“Many families with children in receipt of free school meals struggle with the extra costs of food during the school holidays.

“This will give them some help, knowing that their children will still get the equivalent of free school meals during the four weeks of holidays over the autumn and winter period.

“This funding must be used by 31 March 2023, so we will need to review this once we know if any further grant funding is available that could allow us to continue this support.”

Families who are eligible for this support will be issued with vouchers via early years settings, schools and colleges.

Further information

If your circumstances have changed and you think you could be eligible for free school meals, you can apply here https://shropshire.gov.uk/free-school-meals/

Shropshire Council has provided support for those in receipt of free school meals during school holidays since Christmas 2020.

The council and a range of partners are doing a huge amount to help Shropshire residents with practical measures and support, which can be seen at our Cost of Living support pages.