Rebuilding a fairer Hackney - Ensuring that no child goes hungry this winter
Every school pupil in Hackney who is entitled to free meals at school will be offered vouchers for free meals during the school holidays, with extra support for families with younger children in need, as part of Council efforts to ensure that no child goes hungry this winter.
2,200 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. The Council and its partners will also be working to provide support for children in Hackney’s Orthodox Jewish communities, where the take up of free school meals is lower.
12,000 school pupils in Hackney are eligible for free school meals. Free school meal vouchers will be sent to registered 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.
The support, which will be available throughout the Christmas and February half-term holidays as part of a package of Council help to families who need it most, will continue and extend the free meals offered to Hackney school pupils during October half-term after the Council backed footballer Marcus Rashford’s free school meals campaign.
The meal vouchers will be provided through the Government’s winter grant funding, which will support families in need this winter. This funding will also be used to fund a fuel voucher scheme run by East End Citizens Advice Bureau.
However, as this government funding will not provide help to everyone in Hackney who needs it, additional support will be provided by the Community Partnerships Network – a partnership between Hackney Council and local voluntary and community sector organisations set up to ensure continued support for vulnerable residents affected by the wider impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Residents who want to support the effort can make a cash donation to The Hackney Festive Food Fund or donate food items to local food hubs to help ensure that no child goes hungry this Christmas.
Winter is a particularly difficult time for many local families, but this year will be even more difficult as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which has had a significant impact on the most vulnerable in our society.
Whilst we welcome this government funding, it will not go far enough to provide for every family in need in Hackney and many residents will be ineligible for this support. That’s why we’re working with our partners to ensure that everyone who needs help in Hackney is supported throughout the difficult winter months - and we are incredibly grateful to everyone involved in these efforts.
We cannot have a repeat of 2010, where the Government placed the burden of a global crisis on the most vulnerable people in our society. We will continue working with our partners to ensure that everyone who is entitled to free school meals and additional help receives it, to support all of our borough’s diverse communities and to rebuild a fairer Hackney for everyone.
Parents with any questions about how they will receive the Free School Meal vouchers, or for more information, should contact their school or children’s centre.