Thank you for contacting me about the provision of free school meals (FSM) during the coronavirus outbreak.
Action was taken to ensure that eligible children were still able to get free school meals during the period of partial school closures and over the summer holidays.
The national voucher scheme saw over £380 million worth of voucher codes redeemed into supermarket e-gift cards by schools and families with over 20,000 schools placing orders.
During this challenging period, the eligibility criteria for Free School Meals was temporarily extended. This included some groups who have no recourse to public funds. Further details can be found here:
Now that schools have reopened fully, school kitchens will be open again and normal free school meal provision will resume. Schools should provide meal options for all pupils who are in school. Meals should be available free of charge to:
all infant pupils
pupils who meet the benefits-related free school meals eligibility criteria
It is expected that catering providers will support pupils eligible for benefits-related free school meals who have to be at home for reasons relating to coronavirus by providing food parcels.
Guidance was published to help schools prepare for pupils returning to school. This includes suggested approaches to help school leaders in their decision making around school meals.
A £9 million summer holiday activities and food programme also ran over the summer, offering activities and meals to thousands of disadvantaged children.
I have read Marcus Rashfords’ letter to all MPs with interest. We all want to do what we can to alleviate child food poverty and as such I am pleased that the Government acted to ensure eligible children could still receive free school meals this summer.
The three policy proposals put forward by Mr Rashford's taskforce have been suggested in Part 1 of the National Food Strategy and Ministers are carefully considering these proposals. Further, it is welcome that the Schools Minister has said he would be happy to meet with Mr Rashford to discuss the issue.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.