To ask Her Majesty's Government how they intend to measure the success of the national voucher scheme; and whether they have access to supermarket data on (1) the amount of vouchers spent, and (2) what foods such vouchers were spent on, in order to assess whether the scheme was successful in supporting healthy eating.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what guidance they have issued to support families to feed children nutritious food that meets school food standards whist schools are closed.
Our latest guidance for schools is set out below:
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. Edenred has reported that over £101.5 million worth of voucher codes have been redeemed into supermarket eGift cards by schools and families through the scheme as of Friday 22 May. Edenred has reported that 17,000 schools had placed orders for the scheme as of Tuesday 12 May.
Families are free to select the most appropriate food and drink for their child. When selecting products, we encourage families to consider health and nutrition. The School Food Standards may act as a useful guide for families and is available at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/standards-for-school-food-in-england.
The vouchers should not be redeemed for any age-restricted items, such as alcohol, cigarettes or lottery tickets.
There are a number of online resources available to support families in preparing healthy and nutritious food, including on the NHS Eat Well website: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/?tabname=recipes-and-tips.
Provision for free school meals is ordinarily term time only. However, during the Easter holidays the department met the costs of offering free school meals to eligible pupils not attending school during term time weeks. This was in recognition of the unprecedented levels of disruption and uncertainty for schools during this time.
These are rapidly developing circumstances; we continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.