Normally, we expect parents to care for their children and benefits are based on this, including feeding children in school holidays.
In addition during the summer holidays, there are normally Council summer schemes paid for by government which include a meal. This year that wasn’t possible everywhere and so the government continued food vouchers. However, the direct provision of meals via Council holiday schemes is an effective and proven way of providing food to children and is better than food vouchers. Now that schools are back and providing Free School Meals, there is a case for looking to see if Council holiday schemes could be put in place for other holidays, not just the summer and a Number 10 adviser has been asked to look into this.
After the summer, the Government decided to increase benefits to make sure families were well placed to meet their needs. This was the largest ever increase and covered the cost of meals and much else. Families received a minimum of an extra £1000 pa on top of the annual increase and Councils were given substantial hardship funds.
The new Labour request to continue supermarket food vouchers is not the best way of ensuring children are fed.
I agree it is important to ensure children get their food. We should be able to rely on parents to use the money they are now receiving to do so, but I do think Council holiday schemes have advantages and we will have to see what emerges for the Christmas holidays.