Free school meals provision
We expect local authorities, ELC settings and schools will continue to provide lunch for children and young people who are eligible for free school meals where parents wish to take advantage of this and when they are unable to attend ELC settings and school as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
We are preparing guidance to support local authorities to enable them to continue to provide free school meals.
The guidance will provide a range of options that authorities can consider using, including: cash payments to families of eligible children; supermarket vouchers; free school meal ingredients parcels that include cooking, preparation and storage instructions; and use of school premises to act as food preparation and delivery hubs.
These options are not exhaustive and there may be alternatives which would better suit local needs and circumstances.
Local authorities, ELC settings and schools will use different approaches depending on their individual circumstances and in response to local need. These approaches may also need to change due to health protection advice.
Provision of meals for other members of the family in addition to children and young people
We have established a Food Fund for local authorities to provide support for households that would otherwise be unable to access food.
We would encourage local authorities to consider how to best to provide wrap around support for all members within a household that is at risk, including by maximising income where possible such as through the provision of vouchers.
Guidance to support local authorities in utilising the Food Fund will soon be available on our website.
School Food and Drink Nutritional Standards
The School Food and Drink Nutritional Standards remain in place, but it is recognised that there may be significant challenges in meeting these in the current circumstances.
We are recommending to local authorities that consideration is given to ensuring that healthy and nutritious options are provided, within the current availability of provisions through local and national supply chains.
Provision for special diets
Local authorities, ELC settings and schools will continue to ensure that pupils with special diets or allergies are catered for. No matter which option is chosen to provide meals to pupils, care needs to be taken to check whether any pupils have allergies or special diets before food is issued to them.
Please contact your local authority for information about the arrangements they are putting in place. Read the contact details for your local authority.