Families can claim free school meal vouchers of up to £30 over Easter holiday break
Families can claim free school meal vouchers to spend at supermarkets that are equivalent to what your child may have been receiving at school.
Parents can claim from £15 to £30 worth of vouchers - but it will vary depending on where you live.
It is advised to approach your local council directly to find out if they can help you cover your food costs this break.
Here’s how much you can claim depending on where you live and who is eligible for the free school meal vouchers.
Who is eligible?
Parents that claim certain benefits are eligible for their children to receive free school meals.
These benefits are:
Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Income-related Employment and Support Allowance.
Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.
The guaranteed element of Pension Credit.
Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190).
Working Tax Credit run-on - paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit.
Universal Credit - if you applied on or after 1 April 2018 your household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get).
This information applies to England as there are different processes in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
If your child already gets free school meals during term time, then you should also be eligible for the vouchers over the holidays.
How much can I claim?
How much you can claim will vary between areas so it is advised to check with your local authority.
Make sure to apply, if you still can, through their website or through the school.
Families across Kirklees could claim vouchers worth £30 to spend over this break, whereas schools in Camden council have issued eligible pupils with weekly shopping vouchers worth £15 to spend over the Easter holidays.
Most councils will have had deadlines of 31 March to apply for this help.
But you can still get in contact with your local authority or directly with your child’s school if you think you have missed out.
Type in your postcode on the Government website and you will be redirected to your local council’s website to apply if the opportunity is still there.
It is not guaranteed you will be able to now claim for this holiday.
Norfolk county council has scrapped the vouchers for this Easter holiday.
So it is important to approach your local council directly.
Where can I spend the free school meal voucher?
You will be able to spend the free school meal vouchers at supermarkets including:
Marks & Spencer
But it can vary depending on the terms of your vouchers issued by your council or school.
Check with them directly to see if any of the supermarkets are not included in your specific voucher.
When is the Easter holiday?
Schools in England will be closed for two weeks over the Easter holiday.
Holiday dates can vary by school and local authority, but most children will break up on Friday 11 April.
How does the free school meal voucher work?
Free school meal vouchers are typically issued by email or text, allowing parents to scan codes at the supermarket checkout.
Footballer Marcus Rashford campaigned for the funding to stay after the government planned to scrap funding for free school meals in summer 2020.
The Government then left it to local councils to decide if they want to support free school meal vouchers after issuing £500 million through the Household Support Fund.
The Household Support Fund has given out various support including supermarket vouchers and free cash to help with bills since last October - with free school meal vouchers part of this scheme.
In his Spring Statement, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced extra cash for the Household Support Fund so it can continue.
So more help is on the way for councils to fund these initiatives.
How can you get extra help?
Millions of families will face hiked bills in April, from energy bills to increased taxes - as well as the cost of the weekly shop rising too.
There is other support available if you are not eligible for free school meals or your council is no longer allowing families to claim.
You may qualify for Healthy Start vouchers to help pay for basic foods such as milk or fruit if you are pregnant or have a child under the age of four.
They can be used in shops across the UK and can be used to buy pregnancy and breastfeeding vitamins - and vitamins for children aged six months to five years old.
You can use an online benefits calculator to ensure you are getting all the help you are eligible for.
If you are worried about your finances, there are charities such as Citizens Advice and Turn2Us that will offer free advice.
Food banks can also provide families with emergency supplies.
You will need to be issued a voucher by a local community organisation such as a school or GP.
Search for your nearest food bank on the Trussell Trust website.