Knowsley Council has confirmed that it will step in and fund free school meals during the forthcoming October half term break. The Council has also committed to supporting these children during the Christmas holidays too.
The announcement follows confirmation that the Government would not be extending its funding for free school meals meaning thousands of children in Knowsley could potentially go hungry.
Cllr Graham Morgan, Leader of Knowsley Council said:
“To say we were disappointed by the Government’s decision is a major understatement. We all know how much this pandemic is impacting people up and down the country and we also know the terrible financial impact it is having on families, many of whom were already struggling to put food on the table before COVID-19.
We cannot stand by and see a situation where any child in Knowsley will go hungry and so we are stepping in.
Taking this decision, at a time when we already face massive pressure on our finances, is difficult to do but this is not something we can shy away from. Families need our support and we will be here to help them. I am just sorry our Government hasn’t chosen to do the same thing.”
All children eligible for ‘means-tested’ free school meals in Knowsley will receive a £15 voucher through the Wonde system – the local voucher scheme the Council established back in March. Schools will work with Wonde to share emails and texts with parents who can then redeem these vouchers locally in a range of shops.
Cllr Morgan added:
“We know that at a time like this people need some certainty and reassurance and therefore in addition to funding free school meals during October half term we are also committing to support these children over the Christmas break. We will continue to lobby the government to do the right thing and fund this nationally. But we want to give certainty now. Hopefully this will provide some comfort and ease concerns for many people in our borough.
I would also remind people that no matter what their circumstances, if you are struggling to make ends meet and put food on the table we are here to help.”
Further help and support is available through:-
- Knowsley Support and Volunteer Line – 0800 073 0043
- Knowsley Foodbank – visit www.knowsley.foodbank.org.uk for support if you are in crisis.
- For help and support around Universal Credit, call the Universal Credit Helpline on 0800 328 5644.
- Citizen’s Advice Bureau can provide a range of advice on Coronavirus issues, financial support, paying your bills – call the team on 0845 122 1300.
- You may find this guide from the Money Saving Expert helpful to understand what help you may be entitled to.