Food vouchers for thousands over Christmas
Rotherham Council has funded the scheme to cover the near-12,000 children in the borough entitled to free school meals.
RMBC has continued the support — co-ordinated by schools — since the government ended a national project established during the pandemic.
Cllr Victoria Cusworth, the council’s cabinet member for children and young people said: “Our support for families with children eligible for free school meals will not solve the growing problem of food poverty which is affecting more and more people, but it does at least provide some respite for residents really struggling to make ends meet.
“Many parents tell us that the help provided during school holidays is a lifeline.”
The number of kids entitled to free school meals in Rotherham has soared by more than a third since the start of 2020 — from 8,557 to 11,937.
The vouchers are equivalent to £15 a week per child and the total cost of the support this Christmas is more than £350,000.
Cllr Cusworth said: “Everyone is being impacted by the cost of living crisis and the spiralling cost of food.
“But only families on the lowest incomes, both employed and unemployed, are eligible for free school meals under the Government-set criteria, so we know this support is being targeted at children from families on the very lowest incomes.”
Visit www.rotherham.gov.uk/benefits/apply-free-school-meals/1 for details on eligibility.
Meanwhile, RMBC has provided £115,000 for foodbanks and £44,000 for voluntary groups which are collating food hampers for about 500 vulnerable households.
Visit www.rotherham.gov.uk/money-matters for details on help towards energy costs plus other money-saving advice.