Free School Meal Vouchers: Update as promised– Good News.
During the initial lockdown free school meal vouchers were provided by a company called Edenred, as directed by the Department for Education. The contract with them has been terminated by the Department for Education and therefore schools are required to source a new provider independently if they are to issue vouchers and not food parcels. DfE now only issue support and guidance to schools on the provision on food parcels, hence the messages this morning as we awaited clarity.
I am pleased to confirm that those entitled to Free School Meals will soon be issued vouchers, via an alternative provider (Wonde). Vouchers have been ordered today and we await their issue direct to you.
This is done primarily to support families unable to travel during lockdown or who are advised to limit movement
You will shortly receive a text message from a company called Wonde. Do not ignore this text as it contains information that you must respond to in order to receive your voucher.
We are confident that the vouchers will be issued very soon, however, this is managed by the company, not the school. Any delay will be a result of the high demand as schools apply for vouchers during lockdown at short notice.
In the meantime, we will meet the requirement for free school meals via ‘grab bags’ for tomorrow and until we are secure in the knowledge that vouchers have been issued.
We will keep you updated with any developments.
To answer parent enquiries
*Update from contact with Derby City Council – Entitlement.
I have had it confirmed form the People Services Directorate, that the requirement from the Department of Education / Gov UK is that families are provided with free school meal resources, and that this is not the same as an entitlement to ‘vouchers’. Members of Parliament and the media often use the phrase and imply that there is an entitlement to vouchers – this is not accurate; it is the provision that is the entitlement. I understand why parents may not be aware of the distinction. Schools can manage free school meals entitlement via other means where necessary or appropriate, including food hampers and packed lunches. These are often required by schools as a substitute when they await confirmation or set up of voucher systems, or where it is felt they better provide solutions for families.
Please be patient and respectful towards my office staff who are working very hard and at short notice to establish a system to meet need after receiving notice of lockdown at the same time that you did.
I thank you for your cooperation.
Your understanding is appreciated.