Christmas boost for eligible children
Families in the Devon County Council area on low-incomes, whose children receive free school meals, will get extra support to help them buy food during the Christmas holidays.
Over the past year the council has provided supermarket vouchers worth £15 per child per week of the school holidays to families who qualify for free school meals, so children don’t go hungry.
The county council area doesn't include Plymouth or Torbay, which are responsible for their own schools' policies.
But in the rest of Devon an extra one-off £30 supermarket voucher is being distributed, so families will receive a £60 voucher per child to cover the two week break.
Children currently receiving benefits-related free school meals and their families can also take part in an Holiday Activity and Food (HAF) scheme for free over the Christmas break. It provides enriching activities and nutritious food in a safe and sociable environment for children and young people to develop new skills or knowledge and try out new experiences, make friends and have fun.
It’s part of a £5 million pound programme the council has organised with money from the government’s Household Support Fund. The scheme, which runs until 31 March 2022, can be used for things like emergency boiler and heating repairs and housing costs.
Councillor Roger Croad, cabinet member for communities, said: “It is clear that the coronavirus pandemic is continuing to put a huge financial strain on some people and the effects are likely to be felt for some time still to come.
“It’s no surprise when so many people in Devon work in sectors such as catering, hospitality, leisure, retail and tourism, which were among the hardest hit over the last 18 months.
“The impact on household budgets means many people are finding it especially difficult now as we move into colder winter months, particularly with the cost of food, energy, water and other essential items.
“In fact more families in Devon are eligible for free school meals for their children than ever before, with numbers soaring during the coronavirus pandemic to the highest levels on record. Nearly 18,500 children in Devon now qualify for free school meals, which equates to nearly 18.5 per cent per cent of all school children in the county and 2500 more children than this time last year.
Details about how to access support are available through the Devon County Council website.