Supermarket shopping By Piman Khrutmuang AdobeStock_272406819

Weekly shopping vouchers worth £15 to spend at supermarkets while schools are closed due to coronavirus

Children eligible for free school meals can now benefit from a national voucher scheme. Schools can now provide every eligible child with a weekly shopping voucher worth £15 to spend at supermarkets while schools are closed due to coronavirus.

Schools can continue to provide meals for collection or delivery themselves. But where this is not possible, the scheme will allow schools to provide vouchers to families. These can be sent electronically, or as a gift card.

The vouchers can be spent on food at a range of shops including Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Waitrose and M&S. The Department for Education is working to get more shops to join the scheme.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

“I recognise that the unprecedented action this Government is taking to protect the country from coronavirus, including closing schools, is dramatically affecting the lives of many families.

“That’s why we are launching this scheme to make sure children who usually benefit from free school meals still have access to healthy and nutritious meals while they are not attending school.”

Today (Tuesday 31 March) schools will be emailed by the Department for Education’s chosen supplier, Edenred. Schools will then either be able to:

  • Order vouchers individually online and have a code sent via email to each family. The family can then show the code on their phone at the supermarket; or
  • Arrange a bulk order of multiple codes and receive an excel spreadsheet to help schools organise sending on to a family, or create an eGift card for a preferred supermarket to be posted to a family if parents cannot get online.

The total value of vouchers available per eligible child per week exceeds the rate paid to schools for free school meals, recognising that families will not be buying food in bulk and may therefore incur higher costs.

The Department for Education has also published new guidance on free school meals to help schools and parents prepare.