Half-a-million pounds is being earmarked to extend free school meals during holidays for the rest of this academic year, Leicestershire County Council has announced.

The move is designed to ensure that children and young people won’t go hungry during the Christmas, half-term and Easter breaks – and will benefit the 12,000 pupils across Leicestershire who are eligible for free school meals.

Council leader, Nick Rushton, said: “Times are still tough – and we simply can’t have children going hungry during the pandemic. So we’re stepping up to plug the gap and help thousands of families who need support.

“Our schools have already had their half-term but we’re committing funding for the rest of this school year. Not only is this the right thing to do, it underlines our commitment to providing the help and support our children and families need.”

During the pandemic, the council has also:
•           Given over half-a-million-pounds of Government funding to food banks and community groups this autumn – Leicestershire’s slice of the £63m from Defra
•           Launched a £1.5m fund to support communities – a hospice, a homelessness service and a charity supporting young, older and vulnerable people are just three of those awarded money
•           Established a £750,000 fund supporting small businesses to get back on their feet – with around £400,000 awarded so far
•           Set up a dedicated team to ensure the 25,000 people identified as ‘shielded’ by the NHS have support and care in place, if required – and delivered hundreds of emergency food parcels and prescriptions

Details of the scheme are being finalised.

Criteria for free school meals are set by the Government.