Wiltshire’s vulnerable children will benefit from free meals during October half-term after Wiltshire Council agreed to ensure families struggling with food poverty in the county are supported.

Cllr Laura Mayes, Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills, said: “We know that many families are feeling the financial pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we want to do all we can to support them.

“We want to ensure that children do not go hungry during these school holidays and want to ensure that Wiltshire families know that they will be supported during these difficult times by putting these measures in place. Therefore the council will be funding free meals during the October half term. This will be reviewed throughout the pandemic and we will continue to make sure that any child and family who needs help gets it. As we have done throughout, we will continue to work with our partners in the community and voluntary sector to make sure the needs of our residents are met at this unprecedented time. The work of our community groups has been, and continues to be, amazing and I must thank them for their tremendous support throughout the pandemic.

If you are entitled to free school meals or universal credit and struggling to pay for food over half term, please contact the Wiltshire Wellbeing Hub for support.”

James Gray MP welcomed the support, commenting:

“We are all facing tough times; and we must all do our bit to stop the virus and support those who need it most. The coronavirus outbreak has made the importance of good nutrition for children even clearer and I welcome the support offered by the Council to ensure that children do not go hungry during the October half term. I did not vote for the amendment in Parliament last week as I am hopeful that the Government will find an alternative solution through the benefits system rather than the educational one. I believe this is a great example of this work. Schools have enough on their plates as it is without adding this extra burden, and I know we need to look at other ways to tackle child poverty, including support through local councils.”