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How can you get food vouchers for the school holidays?
The school summer holidays are in full swing, and children everywhere are basking in the thrill of time off school. But it can be difficult during the school breaks for those who claim free school meals during term time.
Missing out on those free school meals can place a strain on the wallets of parents, as well as cause stress. However, thousands of struggling households can get up to £390 in food vouchers for the holidays.
The Household Support Fund (HSF) was introduced by the government in 2021, and is a pot of money allocated to councils across England. The fund is worth over £2 billion so far, helping vulnerable households across the country.
Part of the fund is allocated to food – and helping those who claim free school meals or certain benefits receive support during the school holidays. What you can receive from the HSF depends on where you live – different council have received different amounts of money from the government. Similarly, some help is targeted at those who claim free school meals specifically, whilst other support is for those on certain benefits.
Local authorities tend to deliver the scheme through a variety of routes – however many give vouchers to households. Other councils may provide food or goods directly, or issue grants to third parties. Vouchers can be redeemed at a number of food outlets including supermarkets and foodbanks.
The HSF is different from the Holiday Activity and Food Programme (HAF). The HAF programme provides free holiday club places with enriching activities and healthy meals to eligible children from low-income families.
To find out more about accessing support during the school holidays, click here.
The HSF is only available in England at present. Below you will find the support available for every county in England.
For those in Avon, you can gain access to free support with money, including help with food, housing, energy bills, training and general wellbeing. You can apply here.
Central Bedfordshire Council has been allocated £2.9 million of funding from the Department for Work and Pensions to support households in Central Bedfordshire between April 2023 and March 2024 with food, energy and water bills, and other wider essentials. Click here to apply.
West Berkshire Council has been allocated funding to assist with costs such as energy bills, food, clothing and housing in exceptional circumstances. Priority will be given to households who are ineligible for other government support and vulnerable groups regarding the cost of living crisis. Click here to apply.
Buckinghamshire Council provides free digital food vouchers to families with children eligible for free school meals, early years’ pupil premium or a two-year-old funded free education place. If your family is eligible you will receive a voucher code from your school or early years setting. Find out more here.
In Cambridgeshire, you are eligible to access support through the HSF if all the following apply to you (and your spouse/partner):
Cheshire East Council has loads of help available here.
Cheshire West Council will be allocating £15 per week for each free school meal pupil to ensure families have the necessary financial support for food during the school holiday periods. There is no need for families to apply for this support as schools in Cheshire West and Chester will distribute the vouchers to eligible families prior to the following school holiday periods. Read more here.
Cornwall Council has secured £9 million from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for the HSF. The funding will mainly be used to provide one-off cash payments to help with the increased cost of living. The council is giving £160 per child to families with children eligible for benefits-related free school meals in Reception to Year 11. Two payments of £80 will be made, with the first payment being made in June 2023. A second payment will be made in November 2023. Payments will be made direct to families and you do not need to apply. Find out more here.
Cumberland Council has a limited amount of money available through the Household Support Fund to help people who are in financial crisis because of rising prices. Payments will only be made to help households in immediate crisis – for example, those unable to buy food, pay energy bills or buy other essentials. Click here to apply.
Households facing financial hardship in Derbyshire can apply directly to the Derbyshire Discretionary Fund for help towards their food, and energy costs. Households can access up to three awards in a 12-month period. Payments are £64 per household plus an extra £20 will be provided for a partner or spouse, and each dependent child aged under-19. Click here to apply.
If a child or young person in a household qualifies for free school meals in term time then, currently, they automatically qualify for free school meal holiday vouchers from Devon Council. Households currently in receipt of free school meals are eligible for a supermarket voucher to the value of £15 per child per week during the school holidays to help pay for groceries over the break.
The vouchers will automatically be distributed to eligible households prior to the summer holiday. Find out more here.
Citizens Advice in Dorset is managing some of the Fund on the council’s behalf via a voucher scheme. Supermarket vouchers of £150 will be issued to residents who meet the eligibility criteria within six to eight weeks of their application date. Applications are limited to one per household. Click here to apply.
Durham council has been allocated £9.3 million to provide support to low income and vulnerable households who may be struggling with their energy and food costs, or who need other essential household items. You should automatically receive help. If you haven’t, click here.
If you are facing hardship, you can get help with your essential household costs. The organisations on this page can help you to access support through the Department for Work and Pensions’ Household Support Fund. You do not need to be claiming benefits to get support.
The DWP has provided Gloucestershire with of funding of £7,384,966. This will provide support to vulnerable households in most need of support, to help with significantly rising living costs. Click here to apply.
Households in Hampshire who are struggling to afford necessities such as food and fuel can get extra help from the connect4communities programme, funded by the HSF. Click here to find out more.
Food vouchers will be provided for free school meal or pupil premium children during the school holidays. The vouchers are based on a minimum of £15 per week for each week of the holidays and schools should have organised directly with families who are entitled. Click here for more.
To support with the cost of living, Hertfordshire Council has been provided with funding from the government’s Household Support Fund. This will be used to help people in need with things like the cost of energy and food. Click here to apply.
Those on the Isle of Wight can find out more about receiving food vouchers from the HSF here.
In Kent, you will be eligible for food vouchers if one or more of the following apply:
If you are a parent or carer of a child attending school (five to 16-year-old) you will receive an electronic shopping voucher from your child’s school. If you are eligible, and have any questions, please speak to your child’s school. Find out more here.
Households with children are eligible for up to £20 per adult per week and £15 per child per week (for maximum of two weeks). Single households can get up to £25 per week (for maximum of two weeks). Multiple adult households can get £20 per adult per week (for maximum of two weeks). Find out more here.
Lincolnshire has been awarded a further £10,929,370 from the HSF. Approximately 43% of the funding will be delegated to schools and early years providers to support for children eligible for benefit-related free school meals, early years pupil premium and families with a two-year-old eligible for early years entitlement. Click here to find out more.
Those in London can check with their local council to find out what support is available. Find your local council here.
Those in Liverpool can find a host of financial support and food help during the school holidays. Click here to find out more.
Norfolk was given £13.39m from the government to support residents who are struggling to pay their energy and utility bills. This includes support for single households, families with or without children, older people and disabled people. The council have also provided an extra £400,000 to support people further. Click here to apply.
North Northamptonshire and West Northamptonshire Councils have different provisions for residents, depending on your location. Click here to find out what your council has to offer.
In Northumberland, the HSF can support with food, energy and bills, housing costs and more. If you are awarded a food e-voucher, you will need to go online to convert this into a gift card for Aldi, Iceland, Morrisons, Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose. Click here to apply.
A total of £11.2 million has been given to Nottinghamshire to be administered by Nottinghamshire County Council in partnership with local district and borough councils. Summer and winter support payments, both worth around £100 per household (based on number of eligible household occupants), will continue to support families with children entitled to free school meals, as well as other households and individuals struggling with rising costs. Click here for more.
Those who receive Housing Benefits but do not also receive other qualifying benefits will not receive the national cost of living payments in 2023/24. The county council is using the Household Support Fund to make an expected payment of £450 to these residents. Those eligible residents will receive a letter from the council during the summer. Click here for more information.
Those is Rutland may be able to receive a food voucher for households with school-aged children for the school breaks, a one-off payment of £100 to eligible households in receipt of Local Council Tax Support, or a one-off payment of £100 to care leavers. Click here to apply.
Shropshire has been given a grant of £4.1 million from the government’s national HSF Grant Scheme. Children in receipt of benefits-related free school meals in Shropshire will continue to receive support, usually through meal vouchers. Funding is for 10 weeks in total, which includes summer half term, three weeks of the summer holiday, October half term, Christmas holiday, spring half term and the Easter holiday. This will benefit around 7,500 children, who will get an equivalent to £15 a week of support during these holiday periods. Click here to apply.
In Somerset, you can get help regardless of your work situation, provided you show that you are struggling to pay for essentials. The Household Support Fund will not affect your benefits. Click here to apply.
Education Settings in Staffordshire will be provided with £20 supermarket e-vouchers for their children that meet the eligibility criteria. Click here to find out more.
Where a child is eligible for income-related free school meals, families will be contacted directly by their child’s school regarding supermarket voucher grants, available to them during the school holidays from April 2023 until March 2024. Further information is available here.
The county of Surrey has been given £10.6m of funding from the HSF. The council decided that £5,232,000 of the fund would be used to enable the continued provision of food vouchers to eligible children over the school holidays. Read more here.
Those in West Sussex can apply for the HSF here.
Residents in East Sussex need to contact their local council for support. Click here to find out more.
If you are located in Mid-Sussex, click here for info on getting the financial support you need.
Those under the jurisdiction of South Tyneside Council may be eligible to a single payment of £150 per household. Click here to find out more.
North Tyneside has been awarded £3,219,996 to help the most-financially-vulnerable households in the borough over the coming year. Those entitled to income-related free school meals will receive £15 supermarket vouchers for each week of the school holidays per child. Click here to find out more.
Newcastle City Council will also provide food vouchers for those entitled to free school meals. Read more.
Due to the limited amount of funds Warwickshire Council has available, it will prioritise items necessary for day-to-day living such as food, energy and water and particularly those who may not be eligible for other support the government has recently made available. Find out more here.
Applications for Birmingham City Council Hardship Grant Community Fund opened on July 31, 2023. The council will distribute grants of up to £200 to Birmingham households facing financial hardship. The funds are intended to help with food and energy costs. Click here to apply.
Wiltshire Council has been allocated £5.4 million in round four of the HSF. The funding will be distributed through partner organisation and council departments. Families and young children can receive food vouchers and parcels. Click here to apply.
Worcestershire City Council is supporting people who receive free school meals in the holidays. You will need to contact your school directly regarding the issuing of Free School Meal vouchers during school holidays. Find more information here.
Those in the City of York will be invited to apply for the HSF. If you think you are eligible but have not been contacted, click here.
In North Yorks, you can receive food e-vouchers to use in-store and online with supermarkets. More information will be released in the coming months here.
If you are in the East Riding, your school should have already given you a supermarket voucher for the holidays. Get more info here.
The Welsh government recently axed support for those receiving free school meals. However, three district councils – Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent and Powys councils – have found the cash from their own budgets for the school break.
It is also worth contacting your local council, as they may have an allocated budget for this.
If you get free school meals you may also be able to get help during the school holidays. To qualify you need to get one of the benefits in the eligibility section. You need to contact your local council to find out how to apply. This does not apply if your child gets free school meals due to only being in Primary 1 to 5. You need to also get the benefits in the eligibility section. Contact your local council for more information.