£3.6m grant helps council continue free school meal programme this summer

Essex County Council to provide vouchers to eligible children Credit: ITV Anglia

Essex County Council is to continue to provide free school meals during the summer holidays.

The authority has been given £3.6m Covid Local Support Grant from central government to carry out the scheme.

The council will use £2.6m to continue the holiday free school meal vouchers scheme it has run successfully since Christmas 2020.

Vouchers will be sent direct to parents of eligible children and young people by their school, college or early years setting before the holidays start. They are worth £15 a week per child for four weeks and can be used to buy food in most supermarkets.

The rest of the grant will be split as follows:

  • £200,000 to the Essential Living Fund, which provides emergency grants for food, heating, energy and water bills and essential household goods.

  • £300,000 for targeted family support and childcare delivered through locally trusted organisations.

  • £160,283 to expand Essex ActivAte, the holiday food and activities programme.

  • £185,000 to support homeless people and rough sleepers who need help to get food and essential items such as toiletries.

  • £150,000 for grants to local initiatives nominated by Essex County Councillors that provide food or help with household essentials to vulnerable people in the councillor’s division

Cllr Louise McKinlay, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Community, Equality, Partnerships and Performance, said:

“The future is looking brighter but the pandemic isn’t over, so we are grateful to the government for this Covid support grant and to the many local groups who are helping us use it to continue to provide vital support to those who need it most.

“Through holiday free school meals, the children’s food and activity clubs, help for homeless people, emergency grants and targeted support, we want to ensure children and young people can enjoy nutritious food and fun activities, alongside helping families feeling the financial strain to pay their bills and look forward with hope.”