Halton Borough Council has confirmed that it is working with schools during the Easter holidays to ensure that those children who are entitled to a free school meal can continue to receive one.

Since schools closed their doors to most pupils earlier in the month, the Council has been supplying packed lunches to schools to be distributed to children who need them or providing hot meals for vulnerable children and the children of key workers  attending school.

This service will continue to be offered in the normal way throughout the Easter holidays, with families able to either collect packed lunches daily, every few days, or as a hamper of food to cover lunches for several days. This will be changing after the Easter holiday break, as most schools switch to the Government issued voucher system.

The new national voucher scheme has now been launched, which provides £3 per day, per child, to cover the cost of a lunch. The voucher scheme is being administered by each school individually.

Talking about the measures that are in place, Cllr Phil Harris, Executive Board Member for Community & School Meals says: “’We are trying to ensure that no child goes hungry over the Easter period as the vouchers will only be available during term time, so over the next two weeks we are stepping in to offer meals to those eligible for free school meals as vouchers will not be issued for those weeks. We are mindful that social distancing means we have to be careful about arrangements.’’

On Monday at the Heath School in Runcorn, staff volunteers delivered 250 mini hampers prepared by the Council’s School Meals Service to the homes of students on free school meals. They were able to pack the lunches in reusable bags kindly provided by Marks & Spencer and Morrisons.

Cllr Harris said: “It was a tremendous effort by the school – and I know other schools are also going above and beyond to deliver and provide for our pupils. We know that not all schools can manage this but it’s good to see schools innovating to maximise take-up. And a big thank you to Marks & Spencer and Morrisons for providing hundreds of bags to assist in our efforts to get free school meals out there.”

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