Councillors in Gateshead have agreed to make more than £100,000 from the government Covid Winter Grant available to provide free school meal vouchers during the February half term to thousands of primary and secondary students.

The vouchers will be issued to help parents with the cost of shopping for food for their children over the half term holiday. Each voucher will be redeemable from a range of local retailers and will be distributed to parents by each childs school.

Funding for the voucher scheme comes from the government’s £170 million Covid Winter Grant Scheme which has enabled local councils to provide support to families with children and other vulnerable households. Gateshead Council was allocated £740,348 by the government.

Councillor Catherine Donovan, Deputy leader of Gateshead Council, says: “It’s by no means certain when schools will reopen, so by making this funding available we have at least eased some very real concerns about the half-term holidays. 

We have been working incredibly hard for almost a year with our partners in the voluntary sector, making sure that families are provided with the support they need.

This decision means that families can be reassured that children who are currently learning at home and who are eligible for free school meals will continue to receive support until schools reopen again, including during the February half term holiday.

Gateshead Council has so far spent around £346,900 of the government funding it received to provide support to more than 7,000 local children who are eligible for free school meals.