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Winter holiday food support for low- income families in Devon

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Families in Devon on low-incomes, whose children receive free school meals, will get support this winter to help them buy food during the holidays.

Before the end of this term each eligible child will automatically be sent a £45 supermarket voucher to use during the Christmas holiday and February half term break to replace the meals they would have had at school during the day.

It’s the equivalent of £15 per child per week of the two school holidays, and is being distributed in one lump sum now to allow families some flexibility on how they spend the vouchers and try to help with the additional pressure the festive period puts on household budgets.

Councillor Roger Croad, Devon’s Cabinet Member for Communities, said:

Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for communities said:

“With the cost of living crisis starting to bite, more families in Devon are eligible for free school meals for their children than ever before, with numbers continuing to soar to the highest levels on record.

“Around a further 1,000 children have become eligible for free school meals over the last year, rising to a total of approximately 19,500 pupils.

“It’s been a tough few years for some people, particularly financially with incomes changing suddenly as businesses struggle to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Food and energy prices have risen dramatically in the last few months and household budgets are stretched.

“Many people are finding it especially difficult now as we move into colder winter months, and the financial challenges faced by some families can be intensified during the school holiday because of increased costs such as food and reduced incomes due to childcare. We are concerned that some are being forced to make some very difficult decisions to put food on the table or heat their home.

“Thankfully the government’s decision to continue it’s ‘household support fund’ for now means we’ve been able to buy nearly £900,000 worth of supermarket vouchers to support these families during the Christmas and February half- term holidays so their children don’t go hungry.

“We are continuing to work with our local government, voluntary and community sector partners to support people in Devon experiencing hardship and make sure we identify those who are struggling so we can make sure they get the help they need.”

With the end of term fast approaching, we’ve already sent these supermarket vouchers to families whose children currently receive free school meals, so please check your inbox and redeem them. If you were expecting to receive the vouchers, but didn’t, get in touch with our team as soon as possible by emailing or calling 0345 155 1019.

People’s circumstances change all the time, so if you didn’t previously qualify for free school meals but your income has recently reduced or stopped, please apply via our website. It’s the quickest and easiest way for your eligibility to be assessed and you will get an instant decision.

You can find out more about the free school meal holiday voucher scheme and other support available to help people in Devon with the rising cost of living on our website.