Arrangements remain in place to ensure children and young people in receipt of free school meals receive nutritional lunches.
When schools closed to all pupils except children of critical workers and vulnerable students, arrangements were put in place to provide lunches to those eligible for school meals who were being taught remotely.
The vast majority of North Yorkshire’s schools opted to provide parents and carers with supermarket vouchers via national or local schemes.
Schools in North Yorkshire are free to make their own decisions on whether to use a voucher scheme to distribute free school meals to those children who are eligible, or make different arrangements.
Most schools in North Yorkshire chose to provide parents with supermarket vouchers, to the value of £15 per child, per week.
Others chose to use North Yorkshire County Council’s catering service, which provides food parcels that comply with Government guidelines and provide nutritional, balanced lunches. Other schools opted for different contractors.
Amanda Newbold, Assistant Director for Children and Young People’s Services said: “How free school meals are provided during term time remains an individual decision for schools and the County Council will support those that make meal arrangements which comply with Government guidelines.
“The pandemic has brought about an unprecedented set of circumstances and challenges for many families and North Yorkshire schools are doing all they can to minimise the stress and disruption to families.”
Executive Member for Education and Skills, Cllr Patrick Mulligan said: “Schools in the county are working hard to ensure children continue to have access to food during the school day. As we head into the half-term and then Easter holidays, struggling families will continue to be eligible for food vouchers via the Covid Winter Grant scheme.
“We know that many families have seen their incomes hit hard by the pandemic and, as a council, are putting as much support in place as possible to help people through these difficult times.”
During the February half term and Easter holidays, support will continue to be provided to families via the Covid Winter Grant scheme, which was designed to help struggling families over Christmas and which will continue to provide support until the end of the Easter holidays.
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.