Rebuilding a fairer Hackney - Ensuring that no child goes hungry over the summer holidays
Food vouchers and parcels will be provided throughout the summer holidays by Hackney Council for all families whose children are normally eligible for free school meals. The Council has also been able to allocate funding to under 5s and children from the Orthodox Jewish community who are not on the free school meals list. This is a result of an extension to the winter grant, which was the Government's response to Marcus Rashford’s inspiring social campaign.
Over 12,000 pupils in Hackney who are entitled to free meals at school will be offered vouchers to help with food during the summer holidays. 1200 families with children under five years old who have been identified by Hackney’s children’s centres as needing additional support will also receive the vouchers. We are also working with organisations from the Orthodox Jewish community to support 5000 children from households in financial need.
For those on the Free School Meals register and those identified through Children’s Centres, vouchers will be sent to families electronically via the national free school meal voucher system Edenred. Parents can check if their child is eligible and apply online, to ensure that they get the support they need.
Since December, the funding to help children on holidays has come via the Government’s Covid Local Support Grant (formally the Winter Grant), which has so far supported an estimated 20,000 children and young people. However, as this government funding will not provide help to everyone in Hackney who needs it and it is less funding per week than was allocated in winter, additional support continues to be provided by the Community Partnerships Network. This is a partnership between Hackney Council and local voluntary and community sector organisations set up to ensure continued support for families who need it the most and residents affected by the wider impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Council has also teamed up with a number of schools, sports activity providers and community groups to offer a wide range of exciting summer activities as part of the government-funded Holiday and Activities Food Programme, which will also benefit children eligible for free school meals.
While the Government funding is welcomed by the Council, unfortunately it does not provide the same level of support as we had through the winter grant in December last year. I’m therefore extremely proud at how Hackney Council has stepped up and collaborated with local partners to ensure the most vulnerable in our community have been and will continue to be supported during the pandemic.
It is essential that we continue to help those who need it, especially with so much uncertainty still about the pandemic situation over summer.
In 2018, the Council agreed to fund free school meals for children in migrant and refugee families with ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ ─ a status that usually makes them ineligible for Government support.