After liaising with Luton schools, colleges and voluntary and community sector organisations it was agreed the first priority should be to ensure families in most need would receive help with providing food during the Christmas school holidays.
A scheme has now been developed and supermarket vouchers will automatically be issued to eligible children who qualify for free school meals or Early Years Pupil Premium under the low income criteria.
There are currently around 10,000 children in Luton eligible for free school meals, and this figure is rising. Households will receive a £30 voucher, this is £15 per week for each eligible child for the two-week Christmas holiday period. Parents will receive the vouchers from their child’s school either by email or via a text message to their mobile phone.
Families with children in nursery school, reception, Years 1 and 2 who receive free school meals will not automatically be issued with meals vouchers for Christmas unless they have made a successful application for free school meals or Early Years Pupil Premium and they qualify under the low-income criteria.
The council is partnering with Luton Foodbank, who is working with voluntary and community sector organisations (VCS) to provide support for families and individuals who are not eligible for free school meal vouchers and therefore may miss out on receiving help through the pandemic.
Councillor Aslam Khan, portfolio holder with responsibility for children’s services, said: "For some children and young people a school meal is their main hot meal for the day and holiday hunger is a reality for some of our most vulnerable children. Working together with schools and voluntary sector organisations we are determined to have a robust scheme in place that will ensure no Luton child should go hungry this Christmas and during the winter months.”
Councillor Javed Hussain, portfolio holder with responsibility for adult services, said: “We know that during the Covid crisis many families have been struggling and experiencing severe financial difficulties, with increasing numbers now having to visit foodbanks to survive. The government’s winter grant is enabling us to provide support to our most vulnerable adults and families who are most in need, at the end of what has been an exceptionally challenging year for many people.”
Liz Stringer, chair of Luton Foodbank, said: “We are pleased to be working with Luton Council on this very important initiative that will ensure that no one goes hungry in our town. We have an extensive network of referral agencies that we already work with, and will be communicating with them to get the message out. If you know of someone that is struggling, please ask them to contact us.”
All schools have now received instructions about how to issue the supermarket vouchers which they will distribute to parents before schools break up for the Christmas holiday.
For more details or for parents to check their entitlement to free school meals and/or make an application visit our website
or contact Luton Foodbank
for further support.