We have committed £104,000 to help ensure children from low-income families don’t go hungry this October half-term.

Some 6,500 local children and young people under 16 who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals will each get a £15 food voucher during their half-term break.

As there is no national support this half-term, councillors agreed to fund the vouchers to ensure children don’t go hungry.

This investment, wholly funded by us, follows on from similar investments made during previous school holidays.

Over the Easter, Summer and Christmas school holidays, families in receipt of benefits-related free school meals are able to take advantage of the Healthy Holidays programme which provides a wide range of fun activities and lunch to each participating child. Whilst this is a successful programme, the national funding does not cover the shorter school breaks – hence the additional investment from us.

Councillor Cordelia Law, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “At a time of increasing financial burdens in what has been an incredibly challenging time, we want to help take off some of the pressure.

“Many people have seen their circumstances change due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“We know that as the half-term approaches many families in Torbay may need extra help with food costs.

“The funding we’ve made available during this break will go towards ensuring children don’t go hungry and is part of our commitment to tackling child food poverty.”

Vouchers will be issued to parents and carers on our behalf through their child’s school before the half term approaches.

Find out whether your child qualifies for free school meals and how to apply.

Families not in receipt of benefits-related free school meals that may be struggling with food poverty are urged to contact the Torbay Food Alliance on 01803 446022 or by visiting https://www.torbayfoodalliance.org/.

If you are pregnant or have a child under four you could be eligible to receive Healthy Start vouchers. Healthy Start vouchers are issued weekly and can be used to buy fresh fruit, vegetables and milk. Visit www.healthystart.nhs.uk for further information.

The Healthy Holidays programme will be running over the Christmas holiday. Full details will be available in early November.

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