Nearly 5,000 children in south Herts to benefit from free school meals extension
PUBLISHED: 15:37 16 June 2020 | UPDATED: 15:37 16 June 2020
After the government u-turned on extending free school meals into the summer, it has been revealed that nearly 5,000 children in south Herts could benefit from the scheme.
The latest 2019 figures from the Department of Education estimate that there are 4,798 pupils living in the constituencies of St Albans, Hertsmere and Welwyn Hatfield who are entitled to free school meals.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed the news earlier today, after Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford led the campaign for the scheme to be extended.
According to the BBC, a new £120 million COVID Summer Food Fund has been announced – ensuring those children most in need in our area will have access to meals across the summer break.
Eligible families will be able to claim a one–off food voucher, worth £15 a week for six weeks, which can be spent in supermarkets.
Commenting on the government’s decision, Rashford tweeted: “I don’t even know what to say.
“Just look at what we can do when we come together. THIS is England in 2020.”
MP for Welwyn Hatfield, and transport secretary, Grant Shapps told BBC Breakfast – before Number 10 announced the scheme – that the government has been almost “wrapping its arms” around communities across the UK.
He pointed out that the government has given £63m to councils, specially aimed at children, as well as a £129m investment that he said has “already gone to families and schools as part of the process of helping children”.
And he welcomed Rashford’s contribution to the debate on whether poorer children should receive free school meals.
Before the new scheme was agreed, Welwyn Hatfield borough Labour councillor Max Holloway tweeted: “It doesn’t feel like a controversial statement to say ‘Children shouldn’t be left to go hungry’ but hey, here we are.”
Liberal Democrat St Albans MP Daisy Cooper also expressed that she was in favour of Rashford’s campaign. Ms Cooper said: ”This is a very powerful letter. Of course we must ensure all children have food in their tummies over the summer holiday. What a total scandal we even have to say this.”
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