The families of children entitled to free school meals will receive a weekly food shopping voucher of £15 while schools are closed due to coronavirus.
Under the scheme, schools will be allowed to carry on providing meals for delivery or collection. If not, they will issue parents with the voucher electronically or as a giftcard.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson said: ‘No child should go hungry as a result of the measures introduced to keep people at home, protect the NHS and save lives.
’That’s why we are launching this scheme to make sure children who usually benefit from free school meals still have access to healthy and nutritious meals while they are not attending school.’
The Local Government Association (LGA) welcomed the announcement but urged the Government to extend the scheme to cover the school holidays.
Cllr Judith Blake, chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: ‘There are already an estimated 1.3 million young people entitled to free school meals, and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has meant that there are now a large number of families signing up to benefits.
We want to work with the Government to ensure that struggling families are able to access the scheme as soon as possible. The Government should also consider extending the voucher scheme to cover families over the school holidays.'