Kent County Council has issued more than 31,000 food vouchers to vulnerable families ahead of the December school holidays to help them feed their children over the festive period.
The council set up a scheme last month to provide food vouchers to the families of children who are eligible to receive benefits-related Free School Meals. The intention was for vouchers to be issued before the end of the current school term in advance of the school break.
The scheme is part of a wider range of measures to help the lowest income households with food and fuel costs over the winter.
Leader of KCC, Roger Gough said: “Christmas should be a time for celebration, but it can also put additional financial pressures on families and this is likely to be felt even more strongly this year due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. We launched this scheme to support some of our most vulnerable families and I am delighted we have been able to provide more than 31,000 food vouchers to help ease some of those pressures at the end of a tough year.
“I would like to thank head teachers and their staff who worked quickly to provide KCC with details of their eligible pupils so we could issue vouchers to their families. School staff have done a fantastic job of educating and supporting Kent’s children and young people in extremely challenging circumstances during the pandemic and now they have helped us to support some of our most vulnerable residents at what is a difficult time of year for many. I would also like to thank the council staff whose combined efforts made this scheme possible.
“Looking after the most vulnerable people in Kent, and supporting the health and well-being of all our residents, has been our priority throughout the pandemic and this will remain the case going forward. I would like to wish everyone in Kent a safe and healthy festive period.”
About 30% of Kent schools opted to run their own schemes to provide food vouchers to eligible families and parents/carers will have received details about these from the school.
The food voucher scheme was funded from KCC’s £4.5m share of the Government’s £170m Covid Winter Grant Scheme, which aims to help Local Authorities support children, families, and their most vulnerable residents over the winter. Families received one £15 voucher per eligible child per week of the two-week December holiday, which can be spent online or instore at Asda or instore at Tesco. These are the UK’s two largest supermarket chains that have the biggest distribution of stores across Kent.
KCC plans to launch a similar scheme to provide food vouchers for eligible families during the February half-term break and details will be available in the New Year. A similar scheme saw more than 20,000 vouchers given to families during the October half-term holiday.
The Kent Together helpline and webpage remain open for anyone in the county who is struggling during the pandemic. Any Kent resident who requires support with accessing food, or who has any other urgent needs, can call 03000 41 92 92 or visit www.kent.gov.uk/kenttogether 24 hours a day.
- At midnight on the evening of Saturday, December 19, Kent was placed into Tier 4 Covid-19 restrictions, meaning people can no longer meet indoors with anyone outside their household, support bubble or childcare bubble, including over the Christmas period. For more on Tier 4 restrictions click here: https://kccmediahub.net/kent-london-and-the-south-east-placed-in-new-tier-four-restriction745
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Notes to journalists:
A total of 31,984 vouchers have been issued – more than 96% via email and the rest via text message.
The deadline for schools to submit data for the scheme has now passed and as KCC relies on schools to identify eligible pupils, any new requests for vouchers during the December holidays will not be able to be processed over the next two weeks. Any parent/carer who feels they should have received vouchers but hasn’t should contact their child’s school in the first instance to ensure the school has the correct contact details for them. Families are advised to check in their junk folders, or Promotions folders in Gmail, if they asked to receive their vouchers via email, and to ensure all eligible children are registered for Free School Meals even if they receive them automatically because of their age. KCC will resume processing and sending out any outstanding voucher requests when the schools reopen in the New Year.