Mayor Dave launches free school meals scheme over Christmas

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A scheme to ensure all children in Bedford Borough can stay fed and well over Christmas is underway after Mayor Dave Hodgson launched a free school meal food voucher programme for the Christmas holiday period, honouring the commitment he made earlier this year that no child in Bedford Borough should go hungry. 

Following the government’s U-turn in the face of footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign to extend free school meals into the holidays, Mayor Dave and Bedford Borough Council moved swiftly to establish a local scheme to support families. 

This has seen supermarket vouchers issued to families with children on income-related free school meals, as part of the ‘No to Hunger in Bedford Borough’ campaign.

Mayor Dave Hodgson said: “No child in Bedford Borough should go hungry. That’s why we’ve moved swiftly to set up this scheme and get food vouchers into the hands of families whose children normally have free school meals when they are at school.”

“During these difficult times people think of those in our community who need help the most, especially children. That’s why Marcus Rashford’s campaign was so powerful.”

“True to form the government denied the need to support children during the holidays for as long as they could, before finally U-Turning. 

“Now, as part of our package of winter support, the voucher scheme will help ensure there’s food on the table for all children in Bedford Borough this Christmas.”     

Bedford Borough Council has issued the supermarket vouchers directly via email to families eligible for income related free school meals.

Families have been provided with a single voucher to the value of £30 per eligible child, to cover the two week Christmas Holiday period .

Schools and Children’s Centres have been supporting the effort to ensure families receive their voucher allocation, including identifying families with children under five who are in receipt of pupil premium or ‘two-year-old’ funding so that they can also be supported.

Any Bedford Borough resident with children whose circumstances have changed and who think they may be eligible for support is encouraged to visit Bedford Borough Council’s website – at www.bedford.gov.uk/schools-education-and-childcare/education-welfare-service/free-school-meals/ – and make contact.

The free school meals food vouchers scheme is part of the package of support launched by Bedford Borough Council and voluntary sector partners for families and households over Christmas and the New Year.

The ‘No To Hunger in Bedford Borough’ campaign offers support to help those in need get access to food so that every child in the borough will be warm and well fed this winter. More details, including advice for those who need support and information on how to support the campaign, are available at the partnership website: www.oneymca.org/notohungerinbedfordborough

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