Merton Council is extending its funding for food, for children who qualify for free school meals, during the Christmas break to include pre-school children.
Food vouchers worth £40 are to be provided for around 8,000 Merton children, to ensure no child goes hungry over the two-week Christmas school holiday.
Merton Council has now launched its Covid-19 Winter Grant scheme which builds upon footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign, to fund lunches during the school holidays for children who rely on free school meals. The council has extended the funding to cover pre-school children, who would qualify for free school meals, as well as care leavers who are living independently and young carers.
Families with pre-school children need to complete a short claim form online. Details on eligibility and access to the claim form can be found on the council’s website here
There is no need for families with only school-age children to do anything as all state schools in Merton will be providing a £40 voucher for each eligible child before the end of term. If your child is attending a school outside the borough, the arrangements may differ, but reciprocal arrangements have been agreed between London boroughs.
The £40 for the Christmas fortnight-long holiday is higher than the £15 a week, the council offered to reimburse schools for during the October half-term, in recognition of the additional expenses many families have to cover in this period.
Following the campaign championed by Marcus Rashford, Merton has been awarded £476,193 from the Government’s Covid Winter Grants scheme. In addition to funding meals for children, the council is to award £30,000 in grant funding for the Christmas period towards projects which have been distributing food to those in need across the borough.
Joint Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children and Education, Councillor Eleanor Stringer, said: “We are particularly pleased to be able to extend our funding, to provide food for children in need during the Christmas break, to pre-school children, care leavers who live independently and young carers. No child or young person in Merton should go hungry over Christmas. Eating a healthy lunch is of vital importance to all children’s well-being and development, and this scheme contributes to our commitment to bridge the gap between the most disadvantaged children in the borough and their peers.
“We have decided to increase the weekly rate to £20 over the Christmas fortnight in recognition of the additional costs families face at this time. We are committed to ensuring that no Merton families will be struggling to feed their children this winter.”
NOTES FOR EDITORS
For more information on Merton’s Covid Winter Grant Scheme visit: www.merton.gov.uk/covidwintergrant