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Free School Meals: Voucher Schemes

Department for Education written question – answered on 5th May 2020.

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Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn Chair, Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union, Chair, Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what proportion of telephone calls to Edenred have been unanswered since 23 March 2020 to date.

Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

During this period, we are asking schools to support pupils eligible for benefits-related free school meals by providing meals or food parcels through their existing food providers wherever possible. However, we recognise that providing meals and food parcels is not a practicable option for all schools. That is why on 31 March we launched a national voucher scheme as an alternative option, with costs covered by the Department for Education.

Voucher codes are being processed and many thousands of families are redeeming them. As of 28 April our supplier, Edenred, reported that over 16,500 schools had placed orders for the scheme and as of Monday 4 May, Edenred has reported that over £47 million worth of voucher codes has been redeemed into supermarket eGift cards by schools and families through the scheme.

Schools can contact Edenred using either the email address or phone number set up specifically for the Department of Education’s national voucher scheme (freeschoolmeals@edenred.com or 0333 400 5932). Call volumes are very high at the moment so we would recommend submitting queries via email where possible. We do not hold call handling details.

We are working closely with Edenred on the performance of the voucher scheme and their engagement with queries from schools.

As always, we thank schools for their patience and for ensuring that families most in need continue to receive the support they require.

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