Free School Meals

Department for Education written question – answered on 26th May 2020.

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Photo of Alex Cunningham Alex Cunningham Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of providing parents and carers in England with direct payments in place of the national free school meal voucher scheme.

Photo of Alex Cunningham Alex Cunningham Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what support his Department provides to (a) schools and (b) local authorities to encourage newly-eligible families to apply for free school meals.

Photo of Alex Cunningham Alex Cunningham Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 1 May 2020 to Question 38875 on Academic Year and Free School Meals, by what date his Department will announce the successful bids for the summer 2020 Holiday Activities and Food scheme.

Photo of Alex Cunningham Alex Cunningham Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 3 February 2020 to Question 9002, on Holiday Activities and Food Research Fund, of the nine bids received from the North East region how many were successful; and what the value is of those successful bids.

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

As both my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by Covid-19.

Our latest guidance for schools is set out below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-schools-and-other-educational-settings.

These are rapidly developing circumstances. We will continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

Schools are best placed to make decisions about the most appropriate free school meal (FSM) arrangements for eligible pupils during this period. In the first instance, we are asking schools to speak to their catering teams and food suppliers about making food parcel arrangements for children staying at home as we believe that this is the best way to ensure that children are continuing to receive healthy meals. Where this is not possible, schools can use our national voucher scheme or alternatively can also set up their own voucher arrangements where the national scheme is not suitable. We have not put forward an approach that would involve direct payments to parents.

Schools and local authorities continue to accept FSM applications from parents or pupils. The department provides an Eligibility Checking System to support schools and local authorities in verifying and awarding FSM and we have developed a model registration form to help schools encourage parents to sign up for FSM.

Our Holiday Activities and Food Scheme will ensure that thousands of disadvantaged children have access to healthy meals this summer. On 16 March, we wrote to all bidders to let them know whether or not they were successful in their applications for funding and offered feedback to unsuccessful bidders. We will shortly announce the successful areas publicly.

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