CHILDREN who become eligible to access free school meals (FSM) during the summer holidays will not be able to access the voucher scheme.

This comes just weeks after it was announced that the vouchers would be extended over the summer break to help poorer families feed their children during the pandemic.

However, any children who become eligible for FSM after the summer holidays start, perhaps as a result of their parents losing their jobs, won’t be able to use the scheme.

Cabinet member for children’s services, cllr Matt Smith, said: "While I welcome the recent decision to extend the FSM scheme, the confirmation that children who become eligible for the scheme over summer won’t be able to access vouchers is a crushing blow to some families who will need support more than ever.

"With furlough schemes coming to an end and possible redundancies to follow, extending the FSM offer to those who become eligible over the coming weeks could be a vital lifeline for families.

"The cost of extending the scheme to children who become eligible for FSM is a small price to pay compared to the hardship and risk of poverty some of our families could face as a result of the pandemic.

"With the risk of holiday hunger looming, we will be doing all we can as a council to bridge the gap and will be looking to purchase a range of food vouchers for families.

"We will also be working closely with our foodbanks to help boost their stocks.

"Whilst we will be doing everything possible to ensure no child goes hungry over summer, we are disappointed that it’s been left to councils locally to provide this support when there is already a comprehensive and widespread scheme through FSM that our children should be able to access."

If you are worried about not being able to access the FSM scheme, or for more information, email or call 443322.