Young schoolgirl with lunch at school canteen

Parents Reminded to Register for Free School Meals Over the Summer

The government has extended its holiday activities and food programme over the summer, but we must be registered to benefit

Every local authority in England will receive a grant to fund holiday clubs and healthy food for children over the summer and Christmas holidays 2021.

The government scheme is for children from low income or disadvantaged families. In order for children to qualify for the scheme they must receive benefits-related free school meals. Any child receiving free school meals will be offered a free space on a holiday club.

Figures show a large increase in numbers of children who qualify for free school meals because of the impact the pandemic has had on parents and carers.

But campaigners have criticised the government for not expanding the current eligibility criteria. It is estimated that 1.2million children* are living below the poverty line yet remain ineligible for free school meals. Under the scheme, local authorities can request funding to provide free or subsidised places for children who do not receive free school meals but are considered as vulnerable or in need.

Andrew Forsey, National Director of Feeding Britain, told Quids in!: “The Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme has the potential to improve disadvantaged children’s life chances. In seeking to build on HAF, we believe the eligibility criteria for free school meals should be reviewed by the Government so that no child living in poverty goes without vital support at any time of the year.”

Click here to check if your child qualifies for free school meals. You can apply for free school meals via your local council website: gov.uk/apply-free-school-meals or by contacting your child’s school.

Meanwhile the government has increased the value of its Healthy Start food vouchers (if we’re on benefits, are pregnant and under 18, or have children under the age of four). From April the vouchers increased from £3.10 to £4.25. Babies under one year old get two vouchers a week (£8.50 in total). Pregnant women and children aged from one to four will receive one voucher a week.

To find out if you qualify for the scheme visit healthystart.nhs.uk/how-to-apply

See here for more information on benefits for children.

*Food For Life

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