This summer Essex County Council is continuing the holiday free school meal vouchers scheme it has run since Christmas 2020.

A final £3.6m Covid Local Support Grant from central government is being used to provide free school meals over the summer holidays and extra support for families hit by the pandemic.

Essex County Council (ECC) has allocated £2.6m to continue the holiday free school meal vouchers scheme it has run successfully since Christmas 2020. Vouchers will be sent direct to parents of eligible children and young people by their school, college or early years setting before the holidays start.

They are worth £15 a week per child for four weeks and can be used to buy food in most supermarkets.

The vouchers are for children and young people aged 5 to 19 who are registered for free meals with their school or college.

Cllr Louise McKinlay, deputy leader and cabinet member for community, equality, partnerships and performance, said: “The future is looking brighter but the pandemic isn’t over, so we are grateful to the government for this Covid support grant and to the many local groups who are helping us use it to continue to provide vital support to those who need it most.

“Through holiday free school meals, the children’s food and activity clubs, help for homeless people, emergency grants and targeted support, we want to ensure children and young people can enjoy nutritious food and fun activities, alongside helping families feeling the financial strain to pay their bills and look forward with hope.”

The rest of the £3.6m grant will be spent on various programmes to help families.