Essex County Council is again providing free school meal vouchers for some 35,000 eligible children and young people during February half term.

The vouchers worth £15 per child will be sent out to parents and young people by email or text by Friday 12 February. Printed vouchers will be provided to parents who cannot access them online.

The vouchers can only be exchanged for food and can be used in most supermarkets and the McColl’s chain of local shops.

The council used more than £1m of its Covid-19 winter grant from Government to ensure all eligible children had support for food over the Christmas holidays. Now it is once again funding the vouchers for February half term. The national free school meals programme only covers term time.

Wonde, a national provider of free school meal vouchers, will send the vouchers direct and ease the burden on schools that are already busy coping with the impacts of covid-19.

Parents or young people who have received vouchers or who have questions can find out more athelp.schoolvouchers.com/hc/en-gb.

Cllr Louise McKinlay, Cabinet Member for Children and Families at Essex County Council, said, “With the current lockdown arrangements continuing, we are determined to support children and young people and do all that we can to ensure they do not go hungry during the school holiday.

“Using the government’s Winter Covid Fund, we have allocated over £500,000 of this money to provide vouchers for the week, which complements the national, term-time scheme to provide extra help to those families who need it.”

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