Free school meals: Most parents only have a few days left to apply for £90 voucher

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  • If you child receives free school meals, you will be entitled to a £90 supermarket voucher to spend over the summer holidays - but you must apply before your child's school term ends.

    Every school has to let the council know at least seven days before closing up for the summer. With most schools closing on the 20th of July, most will likely need to register by the 13th of July.

    Children are not usually provided with free dinners over the summer holidays, but a campaign by Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford caused the Government to make a u-turn.

    This means more than 1.3 million children will now receive free school dinners over the summer holidays. Each child will receive a voucher to be spent in a supermarket that is the equivalent to £15 a week. Therefore if your child has a six week holiday it will be £90 or £105 for a seven-week holiday.

    Parents, guardians or carers can use these vouchers in participating supermarkets. These include Aldi, Asda, Morrisons, M&S Food, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose.

    Marcus Rashford campaigned for free school dinners over the summer

    Is my child eligible for free school meals?

    The government has set up a “Covid summer school fund” to ensure children get fed during the holidays. Children usually eligible for free school meals during term time will get a six-week food voucher.

    If your child currently receives free school meal vouchers then they should be entitled to receive free school meals over the summer holidays.

    The easiest way to see if your children are entitled is by looking on the gov.uk website.

    There is no exemption based on age. So, if your child is of nursery, primary school, secondary school or sixth form age, they may still qualify.

    The rules are slightly different in each nation of the United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales). You will need to check each Government website.

    If you are still unsure whether your child is eligible, try contacting your local authority or asking your child’s school for assistance.

    Photo: Alam

    How to apply for free school meals?

    Each part of the UK will need to follow a different procedure which can be found on their government’s websites.

    In England you can find out more on the gov.uk website. Depending on which local authority you live in there will be a different way to apply but this is all explained online. Some councils will expect you to apply through the school and some will want you to register with the local council.

    There is a different process for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Each website is slightly different but they all outline what you need to do to get your £90 voucher.

    You can read more detail about the scheme on the Covid-19 School Meals section of the Government website.

    Each voucher is enough for £3 a day so it will still be important to plan your shop wisely and use recipes that are inexpensive. Try our cheap family meal recipes to help you.

    Don’t miss out.