Kirklees Council vows to prevent children going hungry in school holidays

Kirklees Council is set to invest up to £220,000 in a move to help almost 15,000 children avoid hunger during the upcoming school holidays.

The council has agreed to provide the support to all eligible families in the district, after the Government said it had no plans to fund them during the forthcoming holidays.

Coun Shabir Pandor, leader of Kirklees Council, said: "It’s vitally important for children and young people to have a healthy and balanced diet. The free school meals system is operating in a different way at the moment due to Covid-19 and we are determined that it won’t simply come to a halt during school holidays.

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"We were ready to fund free school meals during the Easter break if the government failed to do so and we are again showing our commitment to local children and families."

Kirklees council has agreed to provide this support for all eligible families in the district, afterministers said there were no plans to fund them during the forthcoming holidays. Photo credit: Chris Radburn/PA

Since schools closed in March to the majority of pupils, children who qualify for free school meals have been entitled to vouchers worth £15 per week. Families can redeem the vouchers in local supermarkets.

Coun Pandor added: "The Covid-19 crisis is having a profound effect on many people’s financial situations – if someone is experiencing hardship, or feel they are at risk of being unable to afford food, I urge them to seek support.

Coun Carole Pattison, cabinet member for learning, aspiration and communities, said: "We want all of our children and young people to be safe and well, and to have the best possible start in life. Preventing food poverty is central to this and the provision of free school meals is often a lifeline for families.

"Free school meals are just one of the ways we are helping our residents. There’s also a range of other options including a huge network of support in local communities. Schools themselves continue to do a fantastic job in supporting children and families during the pandemic. They are going above and beyond in responding to the unique challenges they face."

The move from Kirklees council comes after more than a thousand councillors across England wrote to the Government last week, calling for free school meals to be provided over the upcoming half-term and summer breaks, after ministers said there were no plans to fund them.

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