To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the summer food payment scheme, and (2) the ability of recipients to use e-gift cards for non-school items.
The government has taken unprecedented and substantial action to ensure that children do not go hungry as we take measures to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak, including in relation to free school meals.
In the first instance, we asked schools to support eligible pupils by providing meals or food parcels through their existing food providers wherever possible. For circumstances where this was not possible, we established a national voucher scheme and the COVID-19 Summer Food Fund to support schools and families during this difficult time while schools were restricted from opening to all pupils.
Our national voucher scheme supplier, Edenred, reported that over £380 million worth of voucher codes had been redeemed into supermarket e-gift cards by families through the scheme as of 19 August. Over 20,350 schools had placed orders for the scheme as of 28 July. Now schools and their kitchens are open, normal free school meal provision has resumed, enabling children to have a nutritious healthy meal at school. Our guidance stated that the vouchers must be used for food and must not be redeemed for any age-restricted items, such as alcohol, cigarettes or lottery tickets. Further information is available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-summer-food-fund.