Wolverhampton Council to fund 16,000 free school meals this half term

Wolverhampton Council will pay for free school meals for 16,000 children this half term.

The council today announced that any child who currently receives free school meals will be eligible to continue receiving support over half term next week.

A total of £250,000 has been made available for the scheme.

Wolverhampton is one of more than 30 councils to have stepped up to support families during the holidays, alongside dozens of pubs, cafes and restaurants.

The Labour leader of Birmingham City Council has also pledged to provide 61,000 eligible youngsters with meals in a scheme which will cost the local authority between £800,000 and £1 million.

The local authorities have announced help for young people after Parliament rejected proposals to provide free meals to vulnerable children during the school holidays.

The Labour motion, prompted by a campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford, was defeated in the Commons by 261 votes to 322.

Support

Due to tight timescales to get the scheme operational, the Wolverhampton scheme will be administered jointly by some city schools who will distribute vouchers as well as a return of the council’s emergency food distribution hub which will supply food parcels directly to households.

Text messages have been sent out to the parents/guardians of children who receive free school meals advising them how they can receive support.

Councillor Ian Brookfield, leader of Wolverhampton Council, said: “No child should go hungry in this country or in our city.

“In Wolves, we ‘look after our own’. The pandemic has hit struggling city families hard and we will not allow the 16,000 children who rely on free school meals to go without food this half term.

“Our schools have been absolutely fantastic in their response to this pandemic and we are working closely with them to deliver this scheme. They have been a beacon of light, in dark times.

“This underlines our commitment to giving our children and young people the best possible start in life. That begins with getting the basics right, a good stable home and food on the table.

“Finally, I want to commend the dignified campaign of the footballer Marcus Rashford for bringing the scandal of food poverty to a wider audience.”

Marcus Rashford's proposal for the Government to fund free school meals in school holidays was rejected by Parliament

Wolverhampton currently has 16,000 primary and secondary pupils who are eligible for free school meals – or around 36 per cent of all local pupils. The national average is 17 per cent.

Mr Street said: “It should not be a last-minute thing, this should be planned for, there should be a national approach on this.”

He added the lack of planning meant there was now an “indiscriminate arrangement” across the country as to whether free school meals would be provided over the break.

Mr Street said the Government should make “a clear decision” on whether it would or would not fund free school meals over holidays “well in advance”.

  • Any parent or guardian of a school-age child who lives in Wolverhampton and is normally entitled to free school meals who has not been contacted directly by their school offering a voucher can request support this half term by visiting wolverhampton.gov.uk/freeschoolmealsoctober or by calling 01902 290241 (9am to 1pm Saturday and Sunday) to sign up.

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