Caritas Westminster Responds to the Extension of the Government Free School Meal Programme Over the Summer Holidays


liz and blessed sacrament

Caritas Westminster welcomes today’s announcement that the Government’s Free School Meal voucher scheme will be extended to cover the summer holidays. With our partners in the Caritas Social Action Network, Caritas Westminster has been calling for this change, recently writing to Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Rt. Hon. Robert Jenrick MP asking him to extend the Free School Meals Scheme over the summer.

Unfortunately, holiday hunger is not a new problem, and Caritas Westminster has been working to address it over the last year, by helping parishes and schools to set up their own holiday food provision programmes. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the need is only going to get worse as many parents lose work and have to stretch their budgets further as children are home all day.

Many parishes in the Diocese have shared with us examples of the challenging situations families are facing and we have launched the Caritas Emergency Supermarket Voucher scheme to help meet this need, with the scheme already helping to feed thousands.

In the last few weeks we have also seen many schools set up their own food banks and food parcel delivery schemes to support families who are struggling. Even with Free School Meal vouchers available schools are seeing a level of need so great that they have been forced to provide direct food relief themselves.

As the Government furlough scheme comes to an end and unemployment is expected to rise, we expect to see many more needing food relief and other forms of support. Therefore, whilst we welcome the Government’s U-turn on Free School Meals over the summer, we encourage them to recognise that there is more needed to prevent child poverty in this country, which is reaching record levels.

Caritas Westminster, and parishes and schools in the Diocese of Westminster, will continue doing all we can to meet this need, and we hope the Government will do the same.



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