School holidays can put additional pressure on some families, particularly due to the rising cost of living. Feeding children, who would usually be eligible for a free school meal during term time, can be a struggle.
Providing free school meals outside of term time (as vouchers/food parcels) was brought to our attention by Marcus Rashford during the pandemic, but this summer there are no food vouchers available for these children.
Luckily, many councils have decided to create their own schemes in order to help those who need it most. Financed by the household support fund, a grant of £500 million has been distributed between local authorities, to help carry out these schemes; however, the support that is available depends on where you live!
For example, Worcestershire County Council is offering vouchers to families for only two weeks of holiday, amounting to £30 in total, but households in Sutton can claim £90 per child.
Some councils are completely scrapping the vouchers altogether and running only the Holiday Activity and Food Programmes. Funded by the government and delivered by local councils, the scheme provides healthy food and activities for children who are eligible for free school meals over four weeks during the summer holidays.
Birmingham City Council has commissioned the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme for families in all areas of the city, where a free packed lunch or hot meal will be provided for eligible children. Again, funding depends on participation rate during the pilot stage of the programme.
You can find out more about what support is available in your area through your local council’s website.
Many establishments are also taking the strain away from families during summer by providing free (or cheaper) meals for kids.
Kids can eat for £1 at Asda, and this doesn’t require an adult to buy anything to get the offer. Originally just for over summer, it has now been extended until the end of the year!
Ikea are offering anything from their children's menu for just 95p (or £1.50 for a combination meal which includes a hot meal, soft drink, jelly and piece of fruit).
Children can eat for free at Morrisons cafe, providing an adult meal is purchased. Sizzling Pubs are also running a very similar deal.
Bella Italia and Cafe Rouge are offering a 3 course kids meal (plus soft drink) for £1, but again, if an adult meal is bought.
Kids can have a free breakfast when an adult breakfast is bought in the following chains: Beefeater, Table Table, Brewers Fayre, Premier Inn, Whitbread Inns and Hungry Horse.
Many Dunelm stores have a cafe where kids can get a ‘mini main’, two snacks and a drink for free, however, the accompanying adult needs to spend £4 or more.
Yo Sushi and Real Greek are letting kids eat for free if each adult spends £10.
Please ensure you check individual offers for full details (times/dates/age of children etc).