Free school meal vouchers going out to families for half term
Date published: 03 June 2021
Families will receive a £15 Aldi voucher for each eligible child, which is those that are on the free school meal benefit or identified through children’s services
Families whose children are eligible for free school meals, or identified by children’s services as needing further support, will receive vouchers to assist with the cost of food over this May/June half term holiday period.
This latest round of vouchers will see £183,690 going out to over 7,000 families for over 12,200 eligible children.
Rochdale Council started its financial support to families back in April 2020 when £500,000 worth of vouchers were distributed to families.
Since that point, vouchers have been provided at school holiday periods as well as investment in new and established food clubs, to ease the burden on families.
The money, made up of a mixture of council funds and government grants, has allowed the council to support families with vouchers at what has been a very difficult time, made more challenging when children have not been in school. Further resources have supported the Rochdale Food Solutions network, which involves over 30 organisations across the borough and the development of three new food clubs run through children’s centres.
Families will receive a £15 Aldi voucher for each eligible child, which is those that are on the free school meal benefit or identified through children’s services.
Vouchers are being distributed directly from the council; there is no need to contact your child’s school about this.
Leader of Rochdale Borough Council, Councillor Neil Emmott, said: “I know how welcome the support has been to families in the last year. When we did our first voucher support back in April 2020 they went to just over 5,000 families, now we’re at just over 7,000. The rise in demand is clear and although we’re grateful for government grants that we can distribute to families in need, we need a long term solution to this. Those numbers are only likely to rise as we continue to live through this pandemic.”
Families who are struggling to make ends meet can access the food clubs the council runs in partnership with charity Family Action. By paying an annual membership fee of just £1, families are able to buy £15 of food for only £3.50 and multiple purchases can be made to support larger families.
Early help teams also work with families in greatest need, to ensure that no-one goes hungry. Since it opened in July 2020 over 317 people have registered with the food club and over 4,743 food parcels have been provided to support families with discounted food and 794 parcels have been free to those most in need. There is also no limit to the number of families that can join the food club, if it helps to reduce their food bills.
Councillor Rachel Massey, cabinet member for children’s services and education, said: “We hope that the vouchers and our food club offer are a help to families in these challenging times. Our food club has been a great benefit to families, the feedback received has been great. I’d really encourage people to join the club and make use of the sustainable support on offer. We all need a little help at times, it is a non-judgmental space for our families and we want to help as much as we can.”
If your circumstances have recently changed in these challenging times then you may be eligible for the free school meals benefit. To find out please visit rochdale.gov.uk/school
For any families that are struggling, the council also has a wide package of early help support available.
Everyone struggles at times and it is ok to ask for help. Early help support is extra help offered to children, young people and their families when they need it, to prevent small problems becoming big problems.
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