By KLTV Newsdesk
Families who may be eligible for free school meal vouchers over the school summer holidays are being encouraged to apply as soon as possible.
The vast majority of schools break up on Friday, July 17th and children who qualify for free school meals are entitled to a voucher worth £15 per week for the duration of the holidays.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, free school meal applications in Kirklees have been three times higher than the same time last year.
In that time, the Council says they have helped over 1,000 extra families to receive vital support.
Nationally, Covid-19 has put many families into financial difficulty.
Free school meals will continue to operate during the holidays, with families receiving a government-funded voucher via their school which can be spent in most supermarkets.
Some controversy sparked last month when the government initially announced that they would not be continuing the free school meal vouchers over the summer holidays.
Many opposed the government’s plan, and Kirklees Council even announced that it would fund the free meals regardless of the national stance.
That stance was eventually changed after a nationwide campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford successfully convince the government to change its tune and extend the scheme.
Councillor Carole Pattison, Cabinet member for Learning, Aspiration and Communities, said: “We are determined to prevent people going hungry and we want to make sure all children who qualify for free school meals are receiving their entitlement.
“A healthy, balanced diet is crucial in helping children with their physical and mental wellbeing.
Cllr Pattison also emphasised the link between health and academic achievement.
She added: “It also means they are more ready to learn and thrive when they go back to school, so there is a direct link between staying healthy and achieving better outcomes.
“School holidays are a difficult time for many families, especially those with financial problems, but we’re here to help.”
Councillor Graham Turner, Cabinet member for Corporate, reinforced the council’s commitment to funding free school meal vouchers, even if the government failed to do so.
He said: “Helping people to access free school meals is just one of the ways we’re tackling the financial effects of Covid-19.
“I would urge anyone who thinks they might be eligible to find out more as soon as they can.”
Children are eligible if they are in full-time education and their parents/carers receive certain benefits. For more information, visit www.kirklees.gov.uk/freeschoolmeals