Nearly 2,500 families across Bath & North East Somerset have benefited from a scheme to provide £40 supermarket vouchers over the Christmas period to feed children in need.
Bath & North East Somerset Council processed a total of 2,439 applications, with most of the 3,750 vouchers issued in the three weeks before Christmas.
The electronic vouchers can be spent in a range of supermarkets and were available to the families of pupils entitled to benefit-related free school meals, as well as parents who receive free childcare for two-year-olds, where benefits are such that they would have been entitled to free school meals.
The Government has announced that a national voucher scheme will be in place so that all eligible children can access free school meals in term time while schools remain closed.
During term time it is the responsibility of schools to ensure that provision is made for children who qualify for free school meals.
For February school holidays, the council will be extending its voucher scheme as part of a wide range of community support for vulnerable families, including FOOD clubs, food banks, welfare and financial support.
Councillor Kevin Guy, cabinet member for Children’s Services, said: “We are always working to ensure that parents are able to put food on the table so I’m delighted that our voucher scheme has made a difference to so many families this Christmas.
“We are planning on running a similar scheme in February and we are looking at how we can cover the Easter holidays too.”
Councillor Rob Appleyard, cabinet member for Adult Services and Public Health said: “Making sure families in need received these essential vouchers quickly was a huge task and is testament to the dedication of the council teams involved.
“Staff were pleased to receive a letter from Feeding Britain which told them how “awestruck we have been by the work you undertook with B&NES Food Poverty Steering Group against such a challenging backdrop this year”, which is a worthy acknowledgement of all their hard work.
“I’d also personally like to thank all the volunteers in B&NES who help with community food projects.”
The scheme is funded from the Government’s Covid Winter Grant Scheme. There are currently more than 4,000 children in Bath and North East Somerset who receive benefit-related free school meals.