A £1.4m scheme to provide food and other support to families is part of a range of funding which is being launched in North Yorkshire to help those hardest hit by the pandemic.
A food voucher scheme will aim to ensure children eligible for Free School Meals will continue to have access to meals over the Christmas holidays and into the next year.
The County Council has decided to broaden the scheme to also include other children and families in North Yorkshire who may be struggling. The scheme will also include children in early years provision and those in post-16 education.
The value of the supermarket vouchers will be £20 per child, per week for families in North Yorkshire.
The funding comes from the Government’s £170m Covid Winter Grant Scheme, announced earlier this month. It will be administered by the County Council, who will be allocating schools, including academies, with grants for supermarket vouchers for eligible children.
Schools will be given the discretion to allocate supermarket vouchers to children from families where they may not have enough income to cover essentials such as food.
The Government’s Covid Winter Grant Scheme funding runs from November until March 2021. The large majority of this funding – 80 per cent – is ring-fenced to provide the hardest hit families and other individuals with financial support for food and essential utility bills and specifically provide food for children who need it over the holidays.
Cllr Patrick Mulligan, Executive Member for Education and Skills said:
We know the pandemic has impacted many businesses and jobs in North Yorkshire and many families need some additional help in getting through the coming months.
The scheme will provide help for children on Free School Meals over the holidays, but will also help other families in North Yorkshire struggling to cover the cost of food and essential utilities.
Schools are in a unique position to be able to identify which children are in need of support and where there are families struggling, so we will be giving them the discretion to allocate the supermarket vouchers to those most in need.
We will be setting the value of the vouchers per child, per week, at an above average rate to ensure everyone’s needs are met.
The County Council will begin distributing the grant funding to schools over the coming weeks.
Other council support for people currently struggling in North Yorkshire includes the Local Assistance Fund, which makes emergency awards for food, or utility vouchers. The County Council has increased its award entitlement for emergency provision for a temporary period, using one-off funding from the Government.