More than 7,000 Peterborough pupils to benefit from free school meals over summer holidays

Marcus RashfordMarcus Rashford
Marcus Rashford
The news free school meals will be offered to some families over the school holidays has been welcomed by education chiefs in Peterborough

Despite initial uncertainty, government this week decided to back the scheme, following increasing pressure from schools and public figures such as footballer Marcus Rashford.

Families already in receipt of free school meals will continue to receive provision over the summer break, a period in which they would not usually be covered.

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In Peterborough, 7,635 pupils are considered eligible, with another 237 new pupils now meeting the criteria since lockdown began at the end of March.

In Cambridgeshire, 14,064 pupils are eligible, with 1,362 new additional pupils now meeting the criteria since lockdown began at the end of March.

Some families are finding they are now eligible for the first time, as their financial circumstances may have changed during the lockdown period – and the Council would encourage them to check their entitlement.

Jonathan Lewis, Director of Education for Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council, said: “It is widely known that having a healthy, balanced meal contributes greatly to a child’s development and attainment, which is why our school and academy leaders acted early, even before lockdown, to work with local businesses and supermarkets to ensure those who were entitled to free school meals received them – whether they have been in school or at home.

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As was the case with government’s previous extension over the Easter break, we are working closely with the Department of Education, and all our schools and partners across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to look at plans for families at a local level. Whether through food parcels, vouchers or another method, we will ensure all our eligible families are provided for.”

Cllr Simon Bywater, Chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Children and Young People’s Committee, said: “I am pleased the government has stepped up and shown their commitment to supporting families over the summer break. It goes without saying, families across the country have been facing difficulties throughout the lockdown period, so by extending the scheme to cover the summer weeks they are helping take some of the weight off their shoulders.

Cllr Lynne Ayres, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Education, Skills and the University at Peterborough City Council, added: “The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in many families facing changes to their financial circumstances. If this is the case for you and your family, please do get in touch with the Council so we can check if you now meet the criteria – so all our children and young people have access to the best support available.”