Kirklees Council have announced they could step in to fund free school meals during future school holidays with an investment of over £1.1million.
The government recently announced that it would provide extra support to families during school holiday periods, but full details have yet to be confirmed.
Therefore, Kirklees Cabinet members are being asked to back a proposal next week which would see the council provide free school meal funding if the government failed to do so.
The funding would be £15 per week for every eligible child, of which there are more than 15,000 across the district. It would cover the Christmas holidays, February half-term and Easter 2021.
Last month, the council spent around £232,000 providing free school meal vouchers to eligible families for October half-term.
Council Leader Cllr Shabir Pandor said: “This council will always do the right thing when it comes to our young people; they are our future and they are our priority. Until the government publishes full details about the school holiday support it will provide, we don’t know its intentions. That’s why we are asking Cabinet to confirm that Kirklees Council is ready to step in again.
“During the Covid-19 pandemic, we have made this commitment several times as a show of support for thousands of vulnerable families. School holidays should not mean children and young people go hungry – it’s absolutely essential that we support them to be happy and healthy.
“It was inspiring – and a true sign of our community spirit here in Kirklees – that so many organisations and businesses were also keen to help local families.
“We live in the 21st century and the country is gripped by a national health crisis – under no circumstances will this council allow children to go hungry. If the government fail to deliver, we will be ready, we will act and we will invest more than £1.1million in the future of our children and families.”
Last month, Kirklees, among many councils across the country, said they would continue to provide free school meals after the government initially announced they would no longer continue to fund them during holiday periods.
Cllr Carole Pattison, Cabinet member for Learning, Aspiration and Communities, said: “So many families, both locally and nationally, have seen their circumstances change as a direct result of Covid. There are higher levels of disadvantage, more people struggling financially, and we are doing everything possible to tackle this.
“Funding free school meal vouchers, which are distributed to eligible families, helps around 15,000 Kirklees children to access nutritious food when they aren’t in school. We want our children and young people to have the best possible start in life and be supported to fulfil their potential.”
Cabinet members will make a decision on the funding at their meeting on Wednesday, November 18.