How to get free school meal vouchers for Easter holidays – and full list of supermarkets where you can use them

SCHOOL holidays can be a stressful time for hard-up parents trying to feed hungry mouths – but there is help that you can claim.

Some children, whose parents claim certain benefits like Universal credit, might normally get free school meals during term time, and the help doesn’t stop during the break.

Families can claim free school meal vouchers over the Easter break


Families can claim free school meal vouchers over the Easter breakCredit: Getty

You can claim vouchers to spend at the supermarket that are meant to be an equivalent of what your child may have been receiving at school.

Typically parents can claim from £15 to £30 worth of vouchers, but it can vary depending on where you live.

Schools in England will be closed for two weeks over the Easter holiday.

Holiday dates can also vary by school and local authority, but most kids will break up on Friday, enjoying their first official day-off from April 11.

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But the time-off can prove challenging to parents who need to get food on the table at lunchtime where free school meals would otherwise usually provide.

Especially now, as millions of families face hiked bills this month, ranging from energy bills rises, to hiked taxes, and the cost of the weekly shop shooting up too.

The government has provided funding for free school meals since the first coronavirus lockdown in 2020.

It was meant to be scrapped that summer but footballer Marcus Rashford campaigned for the funding to stay.

Then the government left it to local councils to decide if they want to support free school meal vouchers after issuing £500 million through the Household Support Fund toward the end of last year.

The Household Support Fund has given out supermarket vouchers and free cash to help with bills, among other support, since last October, helping thousands already.

Free school meal vouchers are part of this too, typically issued by email or text, allowing parents to scan codes at the supermarket checkout.

Families across Kirklees for example could claim vouchers worth £30 to spend over this break.

Meanwhile schools in Camden council issued eligible pupils with weekly shopping vouchers worth £15 to spend whilst the institutions are closed.

But most councils will have had deadlines of March 31 to apply for this help.

You could still get in contact with your local authority or directly with your child’s school if you believe you’ve missed out, though it’s not guaranteed you’ll be able to now claim for this holiday.

Type in your postcode on the government website and you’ll be redirected to your local council’s website to apply if the opportunity is still there.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in his Spring Statement extra cash for the Household Support Fund so it can continue, so more help is on the way for councils to fund these initiatives.

But not every council is offering out help.

Norfolk county council for example scrapped the vouchers this Easter holiday – so you will have to approach your local council directly to find out if they can help you cover your food costs this break.

Who is eligible for free school meals?

Children whose parents claim certain benefits are eligible to receive free school meals:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The guaranteed element of Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
  • Working Tax Credit run-on – paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit – if you apply on or after 1 April 2018 your household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get)

If your child already gets free school meals during term time, then you should be eligible for the vouchers during holidays too.

You will have to check with your local authority though as it can vary between areas.

And apply, if you still can, directly through their website, or through the school.

Where can I spend free school meal vouchers?

For most parents who have been successful in claiming the free school meal vouchers, you’ll be able to spend them at supermarkets including:

  • Tesco
  • Sainsbury’s
  • Morrisons
  • Asda
  • Waitrose
  • Marks & Spencer
  • Aldi

But keep in mind it can vary depending on the terms of your vouchers issued by your council or school.

You’ll have to check with them directly to see if any of the supermarkets didn’t make the cut on your specific voucher.

If your council is no longer giving out free school meals, or you’re not eligible, there is other support available.

If you’re pregnant or have a child under the age of four then you may qualify for Healthy Start vouchers to help pay for basic foods such as milk or fruit.

They can be used in shops across the UK and can also be used to buy pregnancy and breastfeeding vitamins, and vitamins for children aged six months to five years old.

Make sure you’re getting all the help you’re eligible for by using an online benefits calculator.

Food banks can provide families with emergency supplies – you will need to be issued a voucher by a local community organisation such as a school or GP.

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You can search for your nearest food bank on the Trussell Trust website.

If you’re worried about your finances, you can contact charities such as Citizens Advice and Turn2Us for free advice.

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