Home Children and Young People For the Record: Knowsley’s Free School Meals during third lockdown
Happy kids eating a sandwich for lunch

For the Record: Knowsley’s Free School Meals during third lockdown

by Gemma Melling

Throughout the pandemic Knowsley Council, through its school meals service, has continued to provide free school meals for more than 7,000 eligible children across the borough’s schools.

Since the national lockdown was announced on 4 January 2021 the council has stepped up once more to ensure that no child goes hungry when schools closed to the majority of pupils. Already more than 3,500 food parcels have been produced and delivered to schools in the borough.

In recent days there has been a lot of media attention, once more, around the provision of free school meals during this latest lockdown. This includes lots of images posted online showing some of the food parcels distributed in other areas of the country. Understandably this is causing some confusion and concern for families.

Here is an update on the current situation in Knowsley.

Knowsley Council has been providing food parcels since lockdown began

Since Tuesday, 5 January 2021, the council has produced and delivered food parcels for more than 3,500 children across primary, secondary and special schools in the borough.

Providing free schools meals in the form of a food parcel for children (rather than a voucher) was in line with the Government guidance provided at the start of lockdown.

The food parcels have been put together by Knowsley’s School Meals Service using national guidance and the support of the LACA (a trade body for education catering) who are used to catering for thousands of children each day. They have included a range of ingredients in the parcels to give families a variety of options for healthy and nutritious lunches.

Here’s what a typical food parcel for a Knowsley child looks like:

A typical food parcel for a child on free school meals in Knowsley during the third national lockdown

An example of the contents of a Knowsley food parcel.

Typically, a food parcel for one child will include:

  • 2 loaves of bread
  • Four large potatoes
  • Tinned food
  • Ham or Tuna
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Fruit
  • Yoghurts

The contents and quantities provided within the parcel will be enough to make a variety of nutritious lunches for a child over two schools weeks (ten days).

The guidance has now changed

On Wednesday 13 January 2021 the Government updated its guidance on free school meals. The new guidance states that individual schools can now  decide whether it is in the “best interests” of its pupils to receive a food parcel or an alternative, for example a voucher to redeem at a local shop.

The council wrote to all schools on Wednesday, 13 January, to advise them of the change and find out how they wish to proceed.

Individual schools will communicate directly with parents / carers on any changes to the provision of Free School Meals whilst the current lockdown continues.

If you need more information:

Families with children eligible for means-tested free school meals should contact their child/ children’s school to enquire about receiving a food parcel or alternative.