Rochdale Borough Council will be funding extra free school meal vouchers during this October half term.
The council is investing in £140,000 into children and family support by providing £15 Aldi vouchers to families - one for each child eligible for free school meals. Vouchers will be sent to eligible families direct from the council - please note that schools are not involved in sending vouchers out.
The vouchers are expected to arrive from week commencing Monday, 2 November 2020.
This investment from the council will support 9,348 children across the borough.
'We're doing all we can and we need government to start understanding the severity of the issue; no child should be going hungry'
Leader of the council, Councillor Allen Brett, said: "I'm proud that we're providing this extra support to those in need. During COVID-19 we have invested in £500,000 of Aldi vouchers to top up those on free school meals, we invested £30,000 into the borough established food banks and we've also invested another £30,000 into setting up a new food club for families. All of this is in a climate of repeated budget cuts to local authorities. We're doing all we can and we need government to start understanding the severity of the issue; no child should be going hungry."
Families who are struggling can also access the new food club the council runs with charity Family Action. By paying an annual membership fee of just £1 families that join can then buy £15 of food for only £3.50 and multiple purchases can be made to support larger families. Our early help teams also work with families in most need to pay for free food bags.
Since it opened in July 1,166 food parcels have been provided to support families.
'Where families have been let down by government we're stepping in to do what we can in these difficult times'
Councillor Kieran Heakin, cabinet member for children's services, said: "It is clear that nationally we need a long term solution from government but we also need them to provide short term support. Times are even harder now for families, especially if they have seen their income reduced due to COVID-19 restrictions. The work Marcus Rashford has done to highlight child hunger and poverty with his own lived experience is so powerful. We support his aims and where families have been let down by government we're stepping in to do what we can in these difficult times."
For any families that are struggling the council also has a wide package of early help support available.
Early help support is extra help the council offers to children, young people and their families when they need it. This can prevent small problems becoming big problems.
Every family is unique and everyone can go through problems that are difficult to deal with. Sometimes families need a bit of extra support. For example, you might be worried about your child's behaviour or development, or you might be experiencing some changes or difficulties that you can't manage by yourself.
Everyone struggles at times, it is okay to ask for help. The council is here for you and would like to support you with any issues as early as possible.