A scheme to help low income families meet the cost of food for children during the school holidays has been extended, with food vouchers being provided in North Yorkshire for the May half-term break.
The Covid Winter Grant Scheme provided food voucher payments to parents and carers in receipt of free school meals, as well as those hit financially by the pandemic, to help meet the extra cost of food and other essentials over the school holidays.
The scheme has now ended, but following a recent Government announcement, payments will continue this May half-term holiday, through the Department for Work and Pensions’ Covid Local Support Grant.
From Friday (April 30), North Yorkshire County Council will be sending out funding for the supermarket vouchers to schools, including academies, as well as early years providers, child minders and care leavers in North Yorkshire. The vouchers can be spent by eligible parents in supermarkets and amount to £15 per child, for the week.
The scheme ensures children eligible for Free School Meals continue to have access to food during the school holidays and schools can also use the vouchers to help other families who may have found themselves in financial difficulty due to the pandemic.
The County Council began allocating voucher funding just prior to the Christmas break. Since then it has helped thousands of families across the county.
Alison Woodward, Head of Riverside School in Tadcaster, part of the Star Multi Academy Trust, said the additional funding through the holiday periods has made a huge difference to families.
“The voucher scheme we have opted to use within our Trust was particularly useful as it has enabled our families to balance out their budgets and make independent choices – this is really important as some families feel that they have little control over the current situation,” she said.
Cllr Patrick Mulligan said: “We are very grateful to the schools, nurseries and child minders for their continued help in distributing the vouchers to parents and carers in need of this support. We know the vouchers help ease the pressure on families when they are faced with increased food costs when children are not in school.”
Any families not eligible for Free School Meals who are struggling financially can apply to the North Yorkshire Local Assistance Fund, which makes emergency awards for food or utility vouchers. The County Council has increased its award entitlement for emergency provision for a temporary period to help those hit hardest by the pandemic.
Find out more information on the NYLAF.