Cost to council of free school holiday meals in Doncaster could top £100,000

Doncaster Council continued to fund free school meals for children during the Easter holidays at costs which could reach over £100,000.

Thursday, 19th August 2021, 3:58 pm
Doncaster Council committed to offering free meals during school holidays to eligible infant school aged children

A decision was taken to provide financial support to schools delivering free school meals for children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 which includes the offer of a meal or equivalent value food voucher during the period of April 6 to April 17.

The council said 100 per cent uptake would equate to just over £160,000 but the updated figures on how many families took up the offer have not yet been published.

Subsequent to this, schools continued to receive their Universal Free School Meal funding at £2.30 per meal. Schools were requested to provide a meal or voucher to the value of their normal per meal price in accordance with need.

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School meals were also delivered as part of a hamper for those children in special schools whose parents requested it, which equated to 70 children at £15 per week until the schools reopened.

Bosses added that this would total 13,650 if all 70 children took up the offer.

Vouchers were also for those not on a school roll who received eligibility benefits of £15 per week and if all 28 children took up the offer, it would cost £5,460.

The decision was made back in May but it wasn’t made publicly available until August.

In a report first drafted in May, Anita Linsdell head of business development within the council’s children & young people department, said: “Doncaster Council wants all children to have access to a meal. Under normal circumstances, children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 are entitled to a free school meal.

“But during these exceptional times of closures due to Covid-19, children have not been accessing this provision.

“Families accessing benefits are being accessed to check their eligibility for benefit related free school meals. However, many families affected by the reduction of income related to Covid-19 are not entitled to benefits and the impact of additional food costs is significant.

“This impact remains during the school holiday period. The cost of providing a meal during the Easter holidays at 100 per cent take up would be £161,423.

“An update on actual take up numbers will be known once details of the claims procedure is communicated to schools.

“Doncaster Council is providing a school meal delivery hamper for children on roll at special schools where their family requests it. This is due to the number of families self isolating or shielding due to their children’s vulnerability.”

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