Free school meals holiday voucher scheme

From Devon County Council:

Devon County Council has arrangements in place to provide supermarket vouchers to nearly 15,000 children across Devon who currently receive free school meals, to help their families buy groceries over the Christmas holidays.

Each child eligible for free school meals will receive a £30 supermarket voucher (£15 per week for the 2-week school Christmas holiday) that can be used at Sainsburys, Tesco, Morrisons, Asda, M&S Food or Waitrose.

The vouchers are issued individually per child, so families with more than one child entitled to free school meals will receive a voucher for each one.

We have partnered with an organisation called Black Hawk Network to help us issue these vouchers as quickly as possible via their ‘Select’ website because they have many years’ experience of managing voucher schemes like this and are working with several other local authorities too.

The vouchers are electronic and will be emailed to families. Arrangements are in place for families who cannot access the internet or who cannot get to one of the six major supermarkets.

The scheme is a way of providing funds to ensure that families of primary and secondary age pupils who are eligible for free school meals during term time are able to purchase food over the holidays to replace the meals their child would have had at school.

DCC will provide vouchers for all children attending schools within the Devon Council administrative area, irrespective of where they live. If a child lives within Devon but attends school in a neighbouring authority (for example Plymouth or Torbay), the school they attend will make arrangements to support them. Eligible children in pre-school and young people in sixth form colleges will also receive the vouchers.  Colleges within Devon are developing their own schemes funded by Devon County Council to provide free meal vouchers during holidays for eligible families. Please contact your college if you have enquiries about their arrangements or eligibility.

If a child already receives free school meals, they will automatically qualify for the holiday vouchers scheme. They don’t need to apply again. Parents and carers of children currently receiving free school meals will be sent letters and emails during the week commencing Monday 7 December with information about how to access their vouchers.  If a parent or carer does not receive a letter or email, and their child is eligible to receive free school meals, they should get in touch with our free school meals team ( or 0345 155 1019)  as soon as possible

If you think a child may now be eligible for free school meals due to a recent change in their family’s circumstances, please help us ensure they can access this holiday voucher support over Christmas by encouraging them to apply online via our website as soon as possible. This is the quickest and easiest way for their eligibility to be assessed and they will get an instant decision.  Alternatively, they can call the education helpline on 0345 155 1019.  To ensure that they receive the free school meals holiday vouchers for this Christmas period, they must apply by Friday 18 December 2020.

More detailed information about the free school meals holiday voucher scheme is available on the Devon County Council website.

DCC recognise that for many families who may be experiencing severe financial hardship, free school meals alone will not be addressing wider issues, and we have therefore provided funding to District Councils, Childrens Centres and Early Help teams over the winter who may be able offer additional support to families during this time.

To find out more about what support is available in Devon, including how to access local financial support, where to find foodbanks and community larders, free meals during the school holidays and what to do if you’re on a low income and need to self-isolate, please visit this page on our website.