Families of children with free school meals in Denbighshire to be paid directly

Written by on April 7, 2020

Denbighshire County Council is currently finalising arrangements for a new way to provide free school meals in the county.

Once a decision was made to close schools due to coronavirus, the Council’s education and catering teams worked tirelessly to put in place a way of providing free school meals to those eligible. In Denbighshire, 3,500 children are eligible (1,900 families).

For the past two weeks, the Council’s Catering team provided free school meals through the key workers’ child care settings set up in many of the county’s schools.  Those attending the sessions were able to receive a meal, whilst those not attending were able to pick up packed lunches.

Now, the Council is switching to a direct payments system where money allocated for school meals will be provided to parents / guardians instead of an actual school meal.

Councillor Huw Hilditch-Roberts, Cabinet Lead Member for Education and Public Engagement, said: “”I would like to pay tribute to the education catering and finance teams for putting the original plans in place for free school meals, once the school closure announcement was made.  This was a mammoth task which involved putting plans in place, informing schools and publicising the arrangements – all within a matter of days.

“We pulled out all the stops to make it happen and I’m tremendously proud of the team.

“Whilst we recognise that the previous way of providing school meals was not ideal, it was truly the best option possible, given the timeframe.

“We have also been disappointed with the low take up of free school meals during this time, so we hope that the new system will provide reassurance that pupils are receiving meals they are entitled to.

The Welsh Government has advised councils that the decision on how to provide free school meals rests with local authorities themselves.  That is why we are now putting alternative plans in place in Denbighshire.

Councillor Julian Thompson-Hill, Cabinet Lead Member for Finance said: “The Welsh Government has advised councils that the decision on how to provide free school meals rests with local authorities themselves.  That is why we are now putting alternative plans in place in Denbighshire.

“A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes to put plans in place for the direct payments system.

“Parents and guardians will be notified of the new way of working and we would urge them to make sure they follow our guidance, to ensure that free school meals continues to be available, albeit in a different way”.


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