Our pledge to help thousands of children avoid school holiday hunger
We have pledged to fund free school meals during the summer holidays for thousands of children and young people.
Central government has insisted it will not fund the scheme after schools break up next month, but we are set to step in and prevent children across the district from going hungry.
Cllr Shabir Pandor, Leader of the Council, said:
“Around 15,000 of our children and young people are eligible for free school meals. We will not let them down. We will do everything we can to keep them fit, fed and healthy.
“Supporting the most vulnerable families in Kirklees is our absolute priority and we will tackle inequality wherever we see it. I am making a personal pledge to do everything we can to support children this summer.
“Hunger can cause serious long-term harm, not only to physical health but to mental wellbeing and future life chances. We want all our children to enjoy the best possible support so that they stay well and achieve their potential.”
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, schools closed in March to the majority of pupils. Since then, families whose children usually receive free school meals have been entitled to food parcels or vouchers worth £15 per week per child.
We are looking at the most effective ways to introduce a similar voucher scheme to replace the national system.
Cllr Pandor added:
“Healthy holidays are so important for all children, but even more so this year. That’s why we are providing help to our communities in a vast number of ways. Preventing hunger is critical to this support.
“The school meals scheme is a lifeline which cannot be allowed to disappear when the holiday period starts in July. The end of a school term does not signal an end to hunger or disadvantage. We will step in to deliver the scheme and make a fundamental difference in people’s lives.”
Cllr Carole Pattison, Cabinet member for Learning, Aspiration and Communities, said:
“It is a basic truth that nobody should be left without food. Children need a healthy, balanced diet if they are to stay well and achieve the best outcomes.
“Our schools have done a fantastic job running the school meals system during lockdown and many have gone way beyond the call of duty. I want to say a heartfelt thank you for everything they continue to do.
“Paying food bills is incredibly tough for thousands of families and they will not be left to fend for themselves during the summer. School holidays can be hard at the best of times, so we will also provide other ways to keep children engaged and healthy.”