A record number of Devon children qualify for Free School Meals

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A record number of Devon children qualify for Free School Meals

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A record number of children in Devon are receiving free school meal holiday vouchers for October half term.

The vouchers, worth £15 per child per week, are automatically being sent to families of children currently receiving free school meals to help them buy food during the holiday.

A spokesperson for Devon County Council said: “We’re sending families of nearly 18,000 children in Devon free supermarket vouchers this October half term as we continue our commitment to tackling holiday hunger.

“Over the past year, we have invested nearly £3.5 million on providing over 100,000 supermarket vouchers for families who qualify for free school meals so their children don’t go hungry over the school holidays.

“That scheme is operating again over the upcoming October half term break, with vouchers worth £15 per child per week automatically being sent to families of children currently receiving free school meals to help them buy food.”

Councillor Roger Croad, DCC Cabinet Member responsible for the free school meals holiday voucher scheme, said: “We are seeing applications for free school meals rise as the coronavirus pandemic continues to have an impact on families in Devon. In fact, the number of children in the county now eligible for this support is at a record high.

“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 financial challenges faced by some families can be intensified during the school holiday because of increased costs such as food and reduced incomes due to childcare. And for some children, especially those from low income families, it means they are less likely to eat healthily.

“We are committed to supporting people in Devon experiencing hardship, and these vouchers will help ease the strain of buying extra food over the October half term holiday to replace the free school meals their children receive during term time.

“It’s a lifeline for many families and I encourage anyone who is struggling to get in touch, support is available.”

Around a further 3,300 children became eligible for free school meals over the last year, rising to a total of nearly 18,000 during the last term – nearly 18 percent of all school children in Devon.

If you didn’t previously qualify for free school meals but your income has reduced or stopped, the quickest and easiest way for your eligibility to be assessed is through the Devon County Council website and you will get an instant decision. Alternatively, contact DCC’s education helpline on 0345 155 1019.

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