Leaders across Cambridgeshire show support for Government U-turn on free school meals extension

PUBLISHED: 16:45 18 June 2020 | UPDATED: 16:45 18 June 2020

Education leaders, including Jonathan Lewis, director of education for Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council, have shown their support after the government changed its mind to extend free school meals over the summer holidays after increasing pressure from schools and figures like footballer Marcus Rashford (right). Pictures: CAMBRIDGESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL/MIKE EGERTON/PA WIRE/PA IMAGES

Education leaders, including Jonathan Lewis, director of education for Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council, have shown their support after the government changed its mind to extend free school meals over the summer holidays after increasing pressure from schools and figures like footballer Marcus Rashford (right). Pictures: CAMBRIDGESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL/MIKE EGERTON/PA WIRE/PA IMAGES

Archant

Education leaders across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have shown their support for the government’s change to extend free school meals for thousands of pupils over the summer holidays.

Jonathan Lewis is one of the county's education chiefs to show their support for the extension of free school meals. Picture: CAMBRIDGESHIRE COUNTY COUNCILJonathan Lewis is one of the county's education chiefs to show their support for the extension of free school meals. Picture: CAMBRIDGESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL

The support comes after the government decided to turn back on the scheme following increasing pressure from schools and other public figures, such as Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford.

Families already in receipt of free school meals will continue to receive provision over the six-week summer break, a period they are not usually covered for.

Jonathan Lewis, director of education for Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council, said: “It is widely known that having a healthy, balanced meal contributes greatly to a child’s development and attainment.

“This is why our school and academy leaders acted early, even before lockdown, to work with local businesses and supermarkets to ensure those who were entitled to free school meals received them – whether they have been in school or at home.”

The government has decided to extend free school meals over the summer holidays after increasing pressure from the likes of Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford. Picture: MIKE EGERTON/PA WIRE/PA IMAGESThe government has decided to extend free school meals over the summer holidays after increasing pressure from the likes of Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford. Picture: MIKE EGERTON/PA WIRE/PA IMAGES

In Cambridgeshire, 14,064 pupils are eligible for free school meals, with 1,362 additional pupils now meeting the criteria since the coronavirus lockdown began in March.

An additional 237 pupils in Peterborough also meet the criteria since lockdown began, on top of the 14,064 pupils already eligible.

Mr Lewis said both Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council are working with the Department of Education and all schools across the area to make plans for families.

He added: “Whether through food parcels, vouchers or another method, we will ensure all our eligible families are provided for.”

Cllr Simon Bywater, chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s children and young people’s committee, said: “Families across the country have been facing difficulties throughout the lockdown, so by extending the scheme to cover the summer weeks, they are helping take some of the weight off their shoulders.”

Some families have found that they are now eligible for the scheme for the first time, as their financial circumstances may have changed during the lockdown period, something that the councils are encouraging them to check.

Cllr Lynne Ayres, cabinet member for children’s services, education, skills and the university at Peterborough City Council, said: “If this is the case for you and your family, please get in touch so we can check if you meet the criteria, so all our children and young people have access to the best support available.”

For more information on free school meals and to see if you’re eligible, visit https://bit.ly/37F3y3a or for Peterborough, click here.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Ely Standard. Click the link in the orange box below for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad, serving as your advocate and trusted source of local information. Our industry is facing testing times, which is why I’m asking for your support. Every single contribution will help us continue to produce award-winning local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Thank you.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Ely Standard