The government will continue to provide schools with their expected funding, including funding to cover benefits-related free school meals and universal infant free school meals, throughout this period. We are asking schools to support children who are eligible for and claiming benefits-related free school meals, by providing meals or food parcels through their existing food providers wherever possible. We know that many schools are successfully delivering food parcels or arranging food collections for eligible children, and we encourage this approach. As schools open more widely, they should speak to their school catering team or provider about the best arrangements for school meals. Schools should ensure that catering teams and food suppliers are supported to return to school to provide meals both for those children attending school and for those remaining at home who are eligible for free school meals. If a school catering service cannot provide meals or food parcels for children who are at home, the school can continue to offer vouchers to families of eligible pupils if needed.
There were initial technical problems with the Edenred system, and government officials have been working tirelessly with Edenred to ensure these issues were resolved at pace. Substantial improvements have been made including a significant reduction in the waiting times for schools ordering and parents redeeming their codes.
Thousands of orders are being processed every week. Voucher codes are being distributed and families are redeeming them. Edenred has reported that over £205 million worth of voucher codes has been redeemed into supermarket eGift cards by schools and families as of 1 July and that over 18,000 schools had placed orders as of 23 June. We have been working closely with Edenred to further improve the scheme, and we thank schools using the system for their patience while it has been upgraded to meet the ongoing demand.