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Free school meals holiday voucher scheme

Last Updated 5:32pm, 15 June 2021


Introduction

Information about coronavirus is available in different formats and languages, including easy read, BSL and for people who are not online.

To claim your free supermarket vouchers please visit the Select website and input your unique code.

If you received a code for May half term it is only valid until Sunday 1 August 2021, so don’t delay! Once you’ve chosen your vouchers they are valid for three months.


If your child does not currently receive free school meals but you think they qualify due to a change in your family circumstances, please apply online through the Devon Citizen’s Portal as soon as possible. This is the quickest and easiest way for your eligibility to be assessed and you will get an instant decision. Alternatively, please call our education helpline on 0345 155 1019.

We want to make sure that no child in Devon goes hungry

During the May half term, families of primary, secondary and sixth form college pupils who currently receive free school meals will automatically be sent supermarket vouchers that we’re providing using the COVID Local Support Grant to help them buy food.

Eligible pre-school aged children in Devon County Council maintained nurseries (including academies) will also receive the vouchers if they usually attend sessions before and after lunch. Private, governor run and charity run settings are not funded for free school meals.

Before the May half term parents and carers of children currently receiving free school meals will be sent a letter or email with information about how to access their vouchers. Please look out for it nearer the time and get in touch with our free school meals team if you were expecting to receive one but didn’t. You can email them at freeschoolmeals@devon.gov.uk or call our education helpline on 0345 155 1019.

If your child does not currently receive free school meals but you think they qualify due to a change in your family circumstances, please apply online through the Devon Citizen’s Portal as soon as possible in order to receive the holiday vouchers for the May half term.

This is the quickest and easiest way for your eligibility to be assessed and you will get an instant decision. Alternatively, please call our education helpline on 0345 155 1019.

What is the free school meals holiday voucher scheme?

The free school meals holiday voucher scheme is way of providing funds to ensure families of children who are eligible for free school meals during term time are able to purchase food over the holidays to replace the meals a child would have received during a school day.

An electronic voucher that can be emailed to families and spent at seven major supermarkets is the quickest and easiest way to do this. Arrangements are in place for families that cannot access the internet or who cannot get to a supermarket.

Families of children that are currently in receipt of free school meals are eligible for a supermarket voucher to the value of £15 per child per week of the school holidays to help pay for groceries over the break.

We have partnered with an organisation called Black Hawk Network to help us issue these vouchers as quickly as possible to families using their ‘Select’ website because they have many years experience of managing voucher schemes like this and are working with several other local authorities too.

Who can access the scheme?

If you are on low income and receive certain benefits your child may be able to get free school meals and supermarket vouchers during the holidays.

The holiday vouchers are issued individually per child, so families with more than one child entitled to free school meals, will receive a unique code for each child to use to get a supermarket voucher to the value of £15 per week of the school holiday for each child eligible for free schools meals.

Many families in Devon have seen their financial circumstances change due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. If you previously didn’t qualify for free school meals but your income has recently reduced or stopped, please apply online through the Devon Citizen’s Portal to check if you are eligible for support as soon as possible in order to receive the support for the May half term.

This is the quickest and easiest way for your eligibility to be assessed and you will get an instant decision. Alternatively, call our education helpline on 03451551019.

Your child may be able to get free school meals and holiday vouchers if you receive any of the following:

  • Income Support.
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance.
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.
  • The guaranteed element of Pension Credit.
  • Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190).
  • Working Tax Credit run-on – paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit.
  • Universal Credit – if you apply on or after 1 April 2018 your household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get).

For more information about free school meals and holiday voucher eligibility, including the temporary extension to include some children of groups who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF), please see our schools and families guide.

What if my child attends school outside of Devon?

We will provide vouchers for all children attending schools within the Devon Council administrative area, irrespective of where they live. If your child lives within Devon but attends school in a neighbouring authority (for example, Plymouth or Torbay), the local authority the school is located within will make arrangements to support them.

What if my child attends college?

Colleges within Devon are developing their own schemes funded by Devon County Council to provide free meal vouchers during holidays for eligible families. Please contact your college if you have enquiries about their arrangements or eligibility.

How to apply for free school meals

If your child already receives free school meals, you will automatically qualify for the holiday vouchers scheme. You don’t need to apply again, just look out for the letter or email with details of how to access your vouchers.

It contains vital information about how to access your vouchers, so please get in touch with our free school meals team if you were expecting to receive one but didn’t. You can email them at freeschoolmeals@devon.gov.uk or call our education helpline on 0345 155 1019.

If your child doesn’t currently receive free school meals but you think they might be eligible for them, please apply online through the Devon Citizens Portal as soon as possible.

Applying online through the Devon Citizens Portal is the quickest and easiest way for your eligibility to be assessed and you will get an instant decision. Alternatively, please call our education helpline on 03451551019.

If you have any other questions about free school meal entitlement please email freeschoolmeals@devon.gov.uk.

About the vouchers

Families of children that are eligible for free school meals will receive a voucher to the value of £15 per child per week of the school holidays for Sainsburys, Tesco, Morrisons, Asda, Aldi, M&S Food or Waitrose to help pay for groceries over the break.

We have partnered with an organisation called Black Hawk Network to help us distribute these vouchers as quickly as possible via their ‘Select’ website because they have many years experience of managing voucher schemes like this and are working with several other local authorities too.

We will send all families currently in receipt of free school meals one unique code per child which can be used on the Select website to get the vouchers. The code must be used to get the full amount of vouchers in one go. The vouchers are valid for three months from the date they are sent to you by Select.

Families with more than one child entitled to free school meals, will receive a unique code for each to use to get the vouchers from the Select website, as the holiday vouchers are issued individually per child.

Only one voucher will be issued per child, so if you are separated from your child’s other parent and your child spends part of their time with them, you will need to make your own arrangements to split the voucher once you’ve received it if necessary.

The letter or email containing the unique code to get the vouchers on the Select website will be sent to the main contact details we have on record, which is usually the parent that made the original application for free school meals.

How will I receive the vouchers?

If you are currently in receipt of free school meals, we will send you one unique code per child which you will use to access your vouchers on the Select website.

The get your vouchers you will need to visit the Select website and input your unique code.

You will then be able to choose your preferred supermarket and add your vouchers to your basket.

Please then checkout of the ‘Select’ website by providing an email address for them to send you your chosen supermarket vouchers electronically within 24 hours. There is no option to receive physical vouchers by post.

Once you have received the vouchers to your email inbox, you can save them to your phone or tablet to use online or show at the checkout in store. Alternatively you can print the vouchers off to give to the cashier.

If you are struggling to access your vouchers because you don’t have access to the internet or a mobile device to receive and store the vouchers on, and don’t have any friends or family to help, please call our education helpline on 0345 155 1019.

Where can the vouchers be spent?

The vouchers can be used in any of these seven supermarkets chains and you can choose the most convenient supermarket for you:

  • Sainsburys
  • Tesco
  • Morrisons
  • Asda
  • Aldi
  • Waitrose
  • M&S Food

The vouchers can be spent in store or some supermarkets accept them online if you get your groceries delivered – please check before choosing which store to get your vouchers for.

You can mix and match supermarkets and use your code to get vouchers for more than one retailer up to a total value of your code. You will need to get the vouchers from the Select website at the same time and will need to get smaller denominations for each retailer up to the total value of your code.

If you are unable to access any of the major supermarkets listed either in store or online, please contact our education helpline on 0345 155 1019 to discuss alternative arrangements.

What can the vouchers be spent on?

The vouchers should be spent on household groceries. You are free to select the most appropriate food and drink for your child. We would encourage you to select healthy and nutritious food. You can find lots of useful information about what this means on the School Food Standards website and the NHS Eat Well website.

How do I use the vouchers?

Once you have inputted your unique code on the Select website and been emailed your vouchers for your chosen supermarket, you can save them to your phone or tablet to use online (depending on the supermarket) or show at the checkout in store.

Alternatively you can print the vouchers off to give to the cashier.

You can use your vouchers as soon as you receive them from Select. They are valid for three months from the date they are sent to you by Select.

If you are struggling to get your vouchers because you don’t have access to the internet or a mobile device to receive and store the vouchers on, and don’t have any friends or family to help, please call our education helpline on 0345 155 1019.

What if I have more than one child eligible for free school meals?

Your family will get a supermarket voucher to the value of £15 per week of the school holidays for each child eligible for free schools meals.

The holiday vouchers are issued individually per child, so families with more than one child entitled to free school meals will receive a unique code for each child to use to get the vouchers from the Select website.

What if I can't access any of the supermarkets?

If you are unable to access any of the major supermarkets listed either in store or online, please contact our education helpline on 0345 155 1019 to discuss alternative arrangements.

What if there's a problem with my code or vouchers?

If you are currently in receipt of free school meals and were expecting to receive a letter or email from us about the vouchers but didn’t, please email our free school meals team at freeschoolmeals@devon.gov.uk or call our education helpline on 0345 155 1019.

If you received a letter or email from us with your unique code, but have lost it, please email our free school meals team at freeschoolmeals@devon.gov.uk or call our education helpline on 0345 155 1019.

If you received a letter from us with your unique code, but are experiencing issues using it on the Select website, please contact Select via the form on their website or by calling 0344 693 9901.

If you completed the process of inputting your unique code on the Select website to get your vouchers but they haven’t arrived in your inbox yet please remember they can take up to 24 hours to arrive and could be filtered into your junk folder. If you still haven’t received the vouchers from Select, please contact them using the form on their website or by calling 0344 693 9901.

If you are struggling to access your vouchers because you don’t have access to the internet or a mobile device to receive and store the vouchers on, and don’t have any friends or family to help, please speak to your school.

In these few exceptional circumstances, they are prepared to complete the process via the Hawk Select website for you and print the vouchers off. You will need to provide the school with your unique code(s) in order for them to redeem the vouchers on your behalf.

What if my child will be spending some of the holiday with their other parent?

Only one voucher will be issued per child, so if you are separated from your child’s other parent and your child usually spends part of their time with them, you will need to make your own arrangements to split the voucher once you’ve received it if necessary.

The letter or email containing the unique code to get the vouchers on the Select website will be sent to the main contact details we have on record, which is usually the parent that made the original application for free school meals.

Other support

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic is continuing to put a huge financial strain on some families. Employment situations are changing rapidly and for some their income now no longer covers what they need or they have lost their jobs completely.

We recognise that for many families who may be experiencing severe financial hardship, free school meals alone will not be addressing wider issues.

Therefore we have provided funding to district councils, children’s centres and early help teams over the winter who may be able offer additional support to families during this time.

To find out more about what support is available in Devon, including how to access local financial support, where to find foodbanks and community larders, free meals during the school holidays and what to do if you’re on a low income and need to self-isolate, please see our page about the support that is available for families.


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