Free School Meals: Summer Holidays

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:49 pm on 16th June 2020.

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Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education 6:49 pm, 16th June 2020

I will start by thanking everybody who has spoken in this debate on an incredibly important issue. I would particularly like to thank my hon. Friend Alexander Stafford. He talked in his maiden speech about the passion of his constituents, who he knows

“can and will change the world for the better.”

I believe that everybody who gets involved in politics wants to do that—they can and will change the world for the better.

At this incredibly difficult time, we need to ensure that we all do everything we can to get support to those who need it most, and that includes getting support to vulnerable children. It is right that we ask schools to keep their kitchens open where possible or to deliver food parcels to those who would normally get a free school meal. It is right that we provided vouchers for children whose schools were not able to provide food parcels. Never before has a system like that been set up in such a short period. Yes, there were technical problems, but as of last Friday, more than £150 million-worth of vouchers had been redeemed by families and schools. It is also right that we will provide additional funding for a covid summer food fund, so that children who are eligible for free school meals receive a six-week voucher this summer. It is right that we listen.