Many councils across England have decided to create their own meal schemes during the school holidays, financed by the household support fund. This is a grant of £500 million distributed between local authorities to help households who need it most.
In Surrey for example, a £30 voucher will be funded to cover the Easter holiday period per each eligible child. In Devon, families who are eligible for free meals will receive a £15 voucher per week over the Easter holidays and May half term. You can find out what support is available through your local council’s website.
The Mayor of London has announced an emergency funding package of more than £3.5m to help provide around 10 million free meals during school holidays and at weekends to low-income Londoners. This will start immediately in the Easter holidays.
Many councils are relying on the Holiday Activities and Food Program to support low-income families over the Easter holidays. This is funded by the government and provides “healthy food and enriching activities” to children who are eligible for free school meals. But the scheme looks different depending on where you live.
Councils are working with a range of organisations to provide free spots on their schemes. This could be at a drama group, dance camp, sports club or other play groups. Over Easter, all participating children should be offered a minimum of four days of face-to-face provision. Those days should be at least four hours long and eligible children will receive at least one free, nutritious meal.
Are free school meals available in Scotland over the school holidays?
Some councils across Scotland are offering free school meal payments to low-income families over the school holidays..
Universal free school meals for children in primary 1 to 5 will not be available over the holidays – but if you do receive benefits, your child may be eligible for free school meals payments.
The Scottish government has announced support will be available at Easter 2023. You’ll need to contact your local council or check its website to find out how to apply and the amount that is available will depend on where you live.
For example, in Edinburgh, families will receive a free school meals holiday payment of £25. In Glasgow, payments to assist with meals during the spring break will be £30 per child.
Low-income families may also be eligible for the Scottish Child Payment. This is four payments of £130 made at Easter, Summer, October and Christmas. The payment for Easter is £25.
Can I get free school meals in Wales over the Easter holidays?
Free meals are available throughout the Easter holidays in Wales. The Welsh Government announced £9 million has been provided to offer eligible pupils a free school meal up until the end of May half term holiday, including all bank holidays and school holidays during this period. Minister for education and Welsh language, Jeremy Miles, said: “Many families across Wales are feeling the impact of rising prices and the cost of living crisis. I hope extending free school holiday provision until May half term will give those eligible peace of mind.”
Councils in Wales will provide low-income families with meal vouchers, money or packed lunches to cover the full period of the school holidays..
Are free school meals being offered in Northern Ireland over the Easter holidays?
Free school meals will not be provided in Northern Ireland over the Easter holidays. The government in Northern Ireland has axed “holiday hunger” payments for children entitled to free school meals.
Families of 96,000 children have received payments of £27 every fortnight during the school holidays since 2020. But the scheme will no longer go ahead this Easter.
The Department for Education said that from April 1 “additional ring-fenced funding has ended and therefore school holiday food grants can no longer be made”. Campaigners have called this decision “abhorrent”.
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