CHILDREN eligible for free school meals will receive supermarket food vouchers to help ensure they don’t go hungry over the Christmas and February half term holidays.
Tameside Council has announced the scheme as part of a package of measures to support local families who are struggling to access food and warmth this winter.
The council will also use the Government’s Covid Winter Grant to support families in need who are not eligible for free school meals through the Early Help Access Point. Food vouchers will also be made available to care leavers and sixth form and college students from low income households.
Additionally, a limited number of food vouchers will be made available through Welfare Rights to support other households in financial need.
The free school meal vouchers – which will be for £20 per week per child for Christmas and £15 for February half term – will be distributed to eligible families via schools.
Likewise, the vouchers for sixth form and college students will be distributed by their respective colleges.
Any families who are struggling who do not qualify for free school meals can contact the Early Help Access Point on 0161 342 4260 for help support and advice.
Households without children who are in severe financial need can contact Welfare Rights on the Freephone advice line 0800 074 9985 Monday to Friday 9.30am–12.30pm.
There will also be grants of up to £10,000 for community organisations and charities who work in the community to provide food.
Tameside Council Executive Leader Councillor Brenda Warrington said: “We’re committed to ensuring all the available Winter Covid Grant goes to effectively supporting our most vulnerable families and households to access food and warmth during this challenging time.
“I don’t want to see any Tameside child or indeed anyone go hungry this winter and the package of measures we’ve put together enables us to target help to those most likely to be in need.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank local businesses that have been supporting the community with food parcels, the offer of free food and other generous donations. I would urge everyone to give something back by supporting local businesses where they can.”
Executive Member, Cllr Leanne Feeley, who is responsible for Lifelong Learning, said: “Thousands of families in Tameside are facing unprecedented challenges at the moment and we want to do everything we can to support them. Families eligible for free school meals do not need to anything to apply – they will automatically receive the vouchers through their schools.
“We’re also really pleased to extend the scheme for sixth form pupils and college students from low income households and again the vouchers will be distributed through colleges. We hope this will really help support our children and young people and take the pressure off struggling household budgets for those who are hardest hit in these difficult times.”