Ensuring thousands of children don’t go hungry

We are stepping in to help thousands of children stay fed and healthy during the Easter school holidays.

We are funding free school meals for eligible children and young people at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic in making life even more difficult for many families.

Why are we stepping in?

After schools closed in March to the majority of pupils, all children who qualified for free school meals were still entitled to a daily meal or voucher. These were funded by central government and were provided regardless of whether the child was actually attending school.

However, during the Easter holidays (which run to Sunday April 19), the government is only providing this support to children who are physically attending school. The government is not funding meals or vouchers for any other children who are eligible for free school meals.

How are we helping?

To help affected families, the council has decided to pick up the bill during this period. The cost will be £15 per child, per week, and it is estimated that around 9,000 children and young people in Kirklees are eligible for free school meals.

Councillor Shabir Pandor, Leader of Kirklees Council, said:

“It has only just become clear that the government will not be funding the vast majority of free school meals over the Easter holiday, but we had no hesitation in stepping in.

This is a decision we would make again and again. We always aim to help local families, especially those who may be disadvantaged or in financial difficulty.

The coronavirus pandemic has magnified the issues faced by some of our families and we are a council that will do everything we can to keep people safe and healthy.

This means thousands of children can receive a healthy and nutritious meal when, in some cases, the only alternative was sadly to go hungry. We are not prepared to allow this to happen.”

Cllr Carole Pattison, Cabinet member for Learning, Aspiration and Communities, said:

“Supporting the most vulnerable in our communities is always a top priority for the council, but the Covid-19 pandemic has made this more vital than ever.

The pandemic is having such a wide impact, and it’s so important that we all do our best to stay well. As a council, we are doing everything possible to support residents and communities.

I also want to thank the many schools across Kirklees who are staying open over the Easter holidays for vulnerable children and the children of key workers. They are doing exceptional work and we are immensely proud of them.”

*If you have a child who is eligible for free school meals, your school will contact you direct about accessing this support over the two-week Easter holiday period.



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