Thousands of Croydon schoolchildren will receive support packages over Easter, despite the government failing to guarantee free school meals over holidays.
Ministers were criticised last year after repeatedly refusing to extend meals vouchers into school holidays, before repeatedly U-turning in the face of widespread public outrage thanks to the pressure from a high-profile campaign led by England footballer Marcus Rashford.
The government has said free school meals vouchers won’t be offered over Easter, but has announced an extension of its Covid winter grant scheme for councils.
It is also rolling out a holiday activities and food programme.
Croydon Council has stepped in to announce its own schemes for Easter, and is planning ahead to the summer and Christmas breaks this year, too.
One £30 supermarket voucher will be issued for each of the 15,874 Croydon pupils who would normally receive free school meals.
This is part-funded by the council’s public health covid-19 response budget and part by the government’s winter grant scheme. It is a repeat of the help provided over the Christmas and half-term holidays.
The council has also offered grants to all schools in the borough to enable them to create Easter Food and Activity Boxes for children who qualify for free school meals.
Funding would cover ingredients for the children to create four nutritious meals plus equipment and ideas for healthy activities such as skipping ropes, balls, colouring books and seeds and soil for growing.
Forty-six schools applied for and were awarded grant funding for the Easter boxes in a programme funded by the government.
The council says it will be looking for partners interested in delivering holiday provision during the summer and Christmas school holidays.
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