How to get free half term school meal vouchers in Nottingham

By Karen Antcliff

Food vouchers will be available to around 15,000 Nottingham school children for the October half-term, Nottingham City Council has confirmed.

As pupils count down to the Autumn break next week, the Council has secured a £3.5m grant to ensure vouchers will be available to those eligible.

The money, made available by Government, will support pupils who would usually be entitled to free school meals.

Each qualifying child in Nottingham will receive a £15 supermarket voucher each week. These will be distributed through schools before pupils break up for the half-term on Friday.

The remainder of the £3.5m grant will be spent on supporting Nottingham residents this winter.

The Council had previously sourced funding from the Government’s Covid Winter Grant Scheme to pay for food vouchers.

This latest grant has come through the Household Support Grant Scheme and will help local families during the two-week break.

Councillor Eunice Campbell-Clark, Portfolio Holder for Schools at Nottingham City Council, said: “This latest funding is obviously very welcome. It is good news that pupils in need of help will be able to benefit from supermarket vouchers again this half-term.

“We’ve been seeking clarity for several weeks about whether we would receive this money from Government and how we could allocate it. Now that we’ve had that confirmed, we’ll work hard with schools to get these vouchers distributed by the end of the week."

The Council has previously secured a £1.8m grant from the Government’s Holiday Activity Fund (HAF). This funding was, through a bidding process, made available to community groups, charities and schools with the ability to deliver holiday clubs in communities across the city.

More than 15,000 children attended these clubs and were fed over the summer holiday in Nottingham, and this money will be used to deliver clubs and activities during the Christmas holidays too.

The HAF funding has been allocated from the Department for Education with certain criteria attached. This stipulates that the support for tackling holiday hunger should be through free school meals pupils attending holiday clubs.

Here, eligible pupils receive a free lunch, alongside a programme of activities focused on healthy eating, fitness and mental health.

Councillor Campbell-Clark added: "Families wiIl be really feeling the removal of the £20 Universal Credit uplift at the moment, and it is right and proper that we are given this funding to ensure healthy meals for children in need.

“We will be seeking further clarity from Government about the future of supermarket vouchers and the best way to support our free school meal pupils in the longer term.”

This time last year, Nottingham City Council endorsed Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign to tackle holiday hunger.

At a meeting of the Full Council in November 2020, councillors highlighted the levels of child poverty in Nottingham and gave a commitment to support free schools meals to children throughout the holidays in 2021.

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