Free school meal vouchers: Scarborough Council to give cash to charities which provide food this half-term
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The announcement comes after the government voted not to extend the free school meal vouchers over the holidays despite a campaign from Manchester United and England star Marcus Rashford, which gained large public support.
Many local businesses and charities across the borough have stepped up to provide meals to children who would normally qualify for free school meals during this half term.
Cllr Steve Siddons said: “The rights and wrongs of the provision of free school meals is for others to address.
“[North Yorkshire] County Council is responsible for education and free school meals provision and it is for them to communicate what action they deem necessary.
“However, what does concern me is the additional pressure this is placing on our local voluntary agencies.
“These community organisations do a fantastic job in delivering services and support to the most vulnerable across the borough on a daily basis. We cannot expect them to take on these additional costs alone.
“That is why I and my Cabinet colleagues are today organising a grant payment to those voluntary groups who continue to provide food during this half-term holiday. Helping them to deliver to our most vulnerable children.
“Let us not forget, this borough has previously been given the dubious title of low paid capital of the UK, it has some of the most deprived areas in North Yorkshire, and is facing immense challenges with regards to employment for the people of our towns and villages, particularly those suffering the effects caused by this pandemic.
“I would also like to use this opportunity to place on record the heartfelt thanks of all of us to those businesses who have offered meals to families who will struggle this holiday.
“I very much hope that families will not be in this situation again”
The funding amount will be known once discussions have taken place with local charities as the council wishes to cover the excess costs the organisations will incur by providing the meals this week.
North Yorkshire County Council has said that families in need can apply for help through the Local Assistance Fund.
Neil Irving, assistant director, Policy, Partnerships and Communities, said: “We have targeted funds that are available not just to children entitled to free school meals, but to anybody who is suffering financial hardship as a result of the pandemic or anything else.
“This support is provided through our Local Assistance Fund. We have extended the fund during the pandemic to enable people to apply for up to three awards of emergency food and/or utility vouchers, and we may review that in the future.”
County council leader Cllr Carl Les added: “This fund makes use of county council resources and we also welcome Government money sent to us since the pandemic began.
“This Covid support is only a part of the Government’s commitment to the welfare system.
“We have used the funds to support food banks, our Community Support Organisations and the Citizens Advice network across the county as these are where residents go for advice and help. We will keep our interventions under constant review so that they are targeted to those that need them.”
People can find details of the fund, including how to apply, at https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/local-assistance-fund.
Alternatively, they can call 01904 550030.