Free school meals and the voucher scheme

7th April 2020

The DfE have released the latest guidance on free school meals and the voucher scheme during the current COVID-19 crisis. This was updated on the 7 April 2020. The guidance can be found here.

Key points:

  • Only for benefit-related free school meals pupils (not UIFSM)
  • Academies should continue to accept free school meal applications
  • The voucher scheme is additional funding 

Where eligible children are not attending school (due to it being closed or they are unable to attend due to illness) ordinarily you would not need to provide free school meals, however the guidance is clear that they expect these meals to still be provided. The eligibility element is in relation to benefit-related free school meals, and so ordinary Universal Infant Free School Meal children are not covered by this guidance.
Where you are unable to provide these pupils not attending school with meals or food parcels through your current food provider, you may look to use a supermarket voucher scheme. This scheme will provide a £15 voucher per child per week to enable parents to purchase food from a list of approved retailers. 

Additional costs
The voucher scheme is to be centrally funded, and is additional to existing free school meal budgets. The cost of the voucher scheme will therefore be nil for academy trusts. The DfE understand that due to time constraints, some trusts may have taken alternative approaches already, for instance purchasing vouchers for shops not currently in the scheme. Further guidance has now been published here as to how you will be compensated for this.

Weeks covered
The vouchers now cover usual term time weeks and the Easter holiday period. 
If you have not received notice from the DfE by the 2nd April, then you should email Edenred: freeschoolmeals@edenred.co.uk.

Should you have any questions please contact Ben Thorne or your usual Bishop Fleming contact.

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