Free School Meals Extended Over Summer

With many students not returning before September 2020 and taking into account the cost COVID-19 will have on people’s jobs, it seems only right we extend the Free School Meal vouchers to support vulnerable families over the summer holidays as a one off.

COVID-19 is a challenge that none of us expected to ever see and face in our lifetime. Across Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke, school staff have been remarkable in adapting quickly to face the challenges of teaching online whilst keeping schools open for children whose parents are key workers. I want to start by thanking them for stepping up beyond measure.

In total, as of the 12th June 2020, Edenred had provided over £150 million of supermarket eGift cards to families and schools. The number of schools who have placed orders on the Free School Meal Voucher scheme has grown to over 17,500.

Locally we have seen the support given to young people, especially those most vulnerable. Stoke-on-Trent has an Opportunity Area co-chaired by the brilliant Carol Shanahan and Professor Liz Barnes. The Opportunity Area received funding to support vulnerable families across the city during holiday periods.

The ‘Ay Up Duck’ programme was set up and run by The Hubb Foundation and was funded for Easter and Summer holidays, starting in 2018 until the end of August 2020. In total £304,700 was given to fund Easter and Summer holiday programmes.

The ‘Ay Up Duck’ programme targets schools and community’s with high levels of deprivation and involves providing enrichment activities and access for parents and children to school nurses and family support. There are also wellbeing and life-skill sessions on cooking and eating healthily, building a young person’s confidence and improving their self-worth.

This programme is run alongside Port Vale FC Foundation, Synectics Solutions , Tesco, Freshway Wholesale Foods, City Catering, Street Games, Stoke City Community Trust, Makro, Netbiz, Purple Cow and Engage Communities.

Across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, we also have another holiday programme, which is supported by Matthew Ellis Police Fire Crime Commissioner - Staffordshire,  called Space. This programme was launched in 2015, and in 2019 we saw an expanded programme due to the large take up of 8 to 17 years olds across Stoke-on-Tent and Staffordshire.

In total the 2019 Space holiday programme served over 38,000 attendees, offering over 1400 activities across 332 different venues.

Today I asked the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson,  that for next summer we need to see an expansion of the Education Holiday Activities Food Programme and called for him to back

The Hubb Foundation for funding in the summer of 2021.