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Food groups raise concerns about use of free school meal vouchers

1st Apr 2020 - 10:22
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Abstract
An alliance of food groups have written to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson urging that the use of the government’s new free school meal vouchers is tightened.

They said they welcomed the initiative, but wanted vouchers made redeemable only for food and drink items as a replacement for school meals.

Social media yesterday carried posts from people suggesting they had used their vouchers to buy new clothes.

“We believe that these vouchers should be restricted to food and drink items only. Using the vouchers on food and drink would then make it easier for families to use any other income for non-food items.

“We would urge you to ensure that Edenred embeds these restrictions into the voucher scheme, so that the allowance of £15 per child per week is spent on the healthy, nutritious food that you recommend.”

Edenred is the private company specializing in employee vouchers, benefits and rewards that the Government has contracted to run the FSM voucher scheme.

Other concerns the group expressed about the new vouchers scheme included whether change would be provided by shops if the full value was not used.

In addition they suggested that the vouchers be issued in a range of denominations – such as £5 or £3 – and that the Government look to provide them to FSM pupil families outside of term time to help mitigate the phenomenon of holiday hunger.

The letter was signed by: Stephanie Wood, Founder/CEO, School Food Matters and co-Chair School Food Plan Alliance; Kath Dalmeny, Chief Executive, Sustain; the alliance for better food and farming; Anna Taylor, Executive Director, The Food Foundation; Naomi Duncan, Chief Executive, Chefs in Schools; Barbara Crowther, Coordinator, Children’s Food Campaign; Rob Percival, Head of Policy (food and health), Soil Association.

 

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Written by
David Foad