Council wants to make sure “no child or young person is left hungry” during the school break
Some 20,000 pupils in Bristol schools who qualify for free schools meals will receive support during February half term.
Bristol City Council will use some of the funding from the government’s COVID Winter Grant Scheme, in the form of £15 shopping vouchers, as it did over the Christmas break.
Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, said: “In these times of austerity we need to do all we can to help vulnerable children, young people and families who are struggling.
“It is important that we maximise all sources of funding available to help, which is why we ring-fenced £300,000 from the COVID Winter Grant Scheme when we originally received it, to ensure no child or young person is left hungry during February half term…”
The support covers all children and young people entitled to free school meals across the city ranging from early years to Post-16 settings.
Families will be able to use the vouchers to buy food from major retailers including Asda, Morrison’s, Tesco and Sainbury’s.
Last year the issue of child hunger during school holidays was raised by professional footballer Marcus Rashford – who successfully campaigned for the government to provide vouchers.
The footballer and others then called for the voucher scheme to be extended until the Easter and Christmas holidays too, after MPs voted against it.
Mayor Rees said the council would be urging the government to provide more certainty on how support would be provided for upcoming school holidays this year, such as Easter.
Across Knowle West, families have also been helped during the pandemic by three local Food Clubs which provide good quality food at low cost. They are based at:
Knowle West Children’s Centre in Leinster Avenue, BS4 1NN (Tues 3-5pm) Contact Janet Nawrocki@bristol-school.uk
Inns Court Family and Community Centre, Marshall Walk, BS4 1TR. Contact Janet Nawrocki@bristol-school.uk
Oasis Connaught Community Hub, Melvin Square, BS4 1NH. Contact Sammy.Ball@OasisConnaught.org
Food banks across Bristol have also seen a sharp increase in referrals – there are three based in East, North West and North of the city.