Dorset Council to support those receiving free school meals over Easter

free school mealsDORSET Council has received government funding to provide additional support this Easter to children who receive benefits-related free school meals.

Free school meal vouchers

Children that are currently in receipt of free school meals, and families experiencing financial hardship because of the COVID pandemic, will be eligible for supermarket vouchers to the value of £30 per child over the Easter school holiday period to help pay for groceries thanks to the COVID Winter Grant Scheme.

The grant totalling £320,584 in Dorset will be used to fund the free meal vouchers for families who may be experiencing financial troubles.

Each voucher will be worth £30 (or an equivalent value food package) and can be redeemed at a participating supermarket of the parents’ choice. These vouchers will be provided through the child’s school.

Cllr Andrew Parry, Dorset Council portfolio holder for Children, Education and Early Help, said: “These are difficult times for everyone, but they are particularly challenging for the families who have seen a significant drop in income.

|Over the last year these food vouchers have taken some of the burden from our families and we’re delighted we can continue this support during the Easter holidays.”

Holiday Activity and Food Programme

The government has also provided funding as part of the Holiday Activities and Food programme, to offer free enriching activities alongside nutritious meals to children eligible for free school meals over the Easter, summer and Christmas holidays.

Dorset Council has worked with local providers to develop the Easter in Dorset Initiative, a collection of fun activities and meals for eligible children to access for free.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, places are limited for face-to-face activities. However, there is also a vibrant collection of online activities that children can take part in from their homes.

The council will have a much larger programme for the summer holidays and beyond.

Explore the activities available by visiting the Easter in Dorset webpage.

As part of Easter in Dorset, the council is producing 1,500 holiday bundles containing home activities, resources and a cook box filled with ingredients and recipes for cooking tasty meals at home.

These boxes are being sent to some of the families hardest hit as a result of the most recent lockdown.

Cllr Parry, said: “It’s fantastic to be able to provide such a bright and fun initiative to our local children. We know that for many families the school holidays can be a particular pressure point, so we hope these activities will be something to be looking forward to.”

Dorset Council is working with Public Health Dorset to make sure all its activities adhere to strict COVID-19 guidelines to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

Families who are eligible for the schemes do not have to choose between the free school meal vouchers and Holiday Activities and Food programme, they will be able to access both at the same time.

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