Central Bedfordshire Council news and press releases

Increase in funding to feed vulnerable children this Christmas

Friday, 6 January 2023

On Tuesday 6 December, our Executive agreed to increase the value of its school holiday food vouchers as well as championing the need to improve the free school meals offer.

The life-long benefits of ensuring children have access to regular good quality meals are well understood and supported by us. Children who eat a nutritious, balanced diet from an early age provides them with the right vitamins and minerals helping them grow and develop. They are also more likely to be energised and motivated, supporting their ability to learn in the classroom.  
During the rising costs of living over the last year, we have used the Household Support Fund to provide food vouchers to families with children eligible for free school meals during every school holiday. Recognising the increasing pressure on vulnerable children as we enter the colder months, we agreed to increase the value of the food vouchers to £17.50 per children per week over the Christmas school holiday period.  
With the current increases in the cost of living we've had several initiatives designed to support vulnerable families either directly with food vouchers and help with other essential bills or indirectly through funding for local foodbanks and support organisations like Citizen’s Advice. One initiative is the Crisis Fund - supporting local families with household bills and payments, and other necessities. Our Children’s Centres work with over 4,700 families, and their support will continue over the winter period. 
Councillor Sue Clark, Executive Member for Children, Families and Education, said: 

With rising costs, we know this winter is going to be tough for residents on low incomes and also for the children in these households. The Council, working together with the voluntary sector is a critical safety net that protects the most vulnerable through difficult times. Increasing the value of food vouchers, alongside our other initiatives will help support children in Central Bedfordshire and will make a difference. 

We will also write to the Government to urge them to simplify the sign up process and expand the criteria for free school meals. This will enable more children who are on the cusp of experiencing food poverty as household budgets are squeezed to access free school meals.