Surrey parents struggling to provide meals for their children during the coronavirus pandemic are being urged to seek help to access the food that they need.
Easter and the school holidays, alongside the ongoing challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, are likely to bring added pressure for many families. Those finding it hard to put food on the table are being encouraged to talk to their child’s school or early years setting, or to contact the Community Helpline set up by Surrey County Council to find out about the options available.
Children who usually receive free school meals due to benefit entitlement are able to continue to receive food even if they aren’t going to school at the moment. In some cases, meals have been replaced by food packages or vouchers to spend in supermarkets, and these are being distributed to families by schools. Food or vouchers will continue to be provided throughout the Easter school holidays and beyond.
For those schools who choose to adopt the newly launched National Free School Meal Voucher Scheme, each child who usually receives free school meals due to benefit entitlement will be entitled to a weekly £15 voucher to be spent on food in one of a range of supermarkets (such as Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury, Morrisons, Waitrose, M&S). Vouchers will either be digital codes which can be emailed to families directly, or schools can print off and post gift cards to family homes.
There are various other sources of food available including food banks and community fridges. In addition, food hampers are available for some families who need them, and again schools will be able to help with allocation.
Mary Lewis, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families, said that it is paramount that we continue to support Surrey’s families during this testing time:
“Incomes are no longer stable, shopping for everyday food products is harder and, at the same time, with everyone at home, more meals are needed. It is important that we all face this together, keeping children safe and ensuring that they are well-nourished.
“I urge parents to take advantage of the Community Helpline and to use the free school meals or replacement food vouchers which are available through their local schools. It’s never easy being a parent, but this is a really challenging time and I want to reassure families that there is help available.”
To contact the Community Helpline call 0300 200 1008 – other sources of food support can be found here.