NEARLY 3,000 children in York who receive free school meals will now also get food vouchers, funded by the council, to cover the Christmas holidays.
One resident whose children receive free school meals in York said the holiday vouchers mean they do not have to choose between keeping their family warm or keeping them fed.
City of York Council stepped in to provide children who are entitled to free school meals with vouchers during October half term – after the Government refused to back calls for the scheme to be extended.
Now city councillors have voted overwhelmingly to approve the scheme.
Parents and carers of eligible children will now receive a £15 food voucher per child each week for the two weeks of the school Christmas holidays next month.
Labour councillor Rob Webb said: “I am absolutely delighted that councillors have decided to support these children and do something to combat holiday hunger. Labour has called at the national level for the Government to fund this and Premier League footballer Marcus Rashford has led an excellent campaign on the issue, leading hundreds of thousands of people to sign a petition asking for the government to step in and support families through the Covid 19 crisis.”
A number of councils up and down the country have stepped in to fund local schemes following the Government’s unwillingness to do so.
The motion also called on all of York’s political leaders to send a letter to the Secretary of State for Education asking for the above emergency funding to be reimbursed and that further funding be provided to fund the scheme over the remaining holiday periods of the year.
Cllr Webb said: “Holiday hunger is something that has been brought into sharp focus by the pandemic, however it has always been a problem. Hopefully this can be the beginning of the next steps required to address this issue long term”.