Action to support free school meals announced at Worcester cost of living conference

School lunch

Worcester City Council is to pay for free lunches over the majority of the summer holidays for children who would normally receive free meals in term-time.

The initiative, funded by £215,000 from the Council's hardship fund, was announced at a conference it organised to discuss how the cost of living emergency is being handled in the city.

Announcing the move, the Council's Joint Leader Councillor Marc Bayliss said: "There can be no one in Worcester who is not acutely aware of the impact the current cost of living crisis is happening on families across our city.

"Worcester City Council has an important role to play in supporting those families that are hardest hit and I am delighted that we have been able to secure cross-party support for this initiative to ensure children do not go hungry over the summer holidays."

The move will mean that up to 3,400 children – including some pre-school children and students at HOW College – will receive vouchers for just over four weeks from the start of August. Vouchers are already being provided for the first two weeks of the summer holidays by Worcestershire County Council's Worcestershire Children First service.

Qualifying children will receive vouchers worth £3 per day. They can be redeemed at supermarkets for food and drink. Details of how to download the vouchers will be provided to the children's parents before the end of term.

All students who attend school in Worcester and are registered for the Pupil Premium will qualify for support from this scheme. Any parents who have not received details about claiming their vouchers before the end of term should contact their children's school.

Cllr Bayliss made the announcement at the cost of living conference run by the City Council at the University of Worcester Arena on Wednesday 13 July.

Attended by more than 60 people, the conference brought together local organisations from the city's community, health, business and voluntary sectors. It was an opportunity for each to share information on the services they provide and to discuss how they can work more closely together to provide greater support for the people being hardest hit by the cost of living crisis.

Cllr Bayliss said: "The conference was designed to help each organisation share information about what they do, so that if someone in need approaches them and they're not able to help them, they can point them to someone else who can. It also helped all of us to identify where there is a gap in support services and to start thinking about how we can fill it."

Organisations attending the conference included Age UK, housing associations, charities working with rough sleepers and homeless people, the Salvation Army, Worcester Foodbank, the NHS, Worcestershire County Council, Worcester Community Trust, the University of Worcester, Act On Energy, Stonewater, Worcester BID and many others.

Worcester City Council declared a cost of living emergency earlier this month. 

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