Voucher scheme for poorer families excludes cheapest supermarkets

Free school meal vouchers issued to families across Brighton and Hove exclude some of the cheapest and easiest to reach supermarkets.

A teacher processing the vouchers contacted the Local Democracy Reporting Service to say that the list did not include Lidl, Aldi and the Co-op.

The vouchers can, though, be used at Marks and Spencer, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda and Morrisons.

The teacher, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “This doesn’t include the Easter holiday, which is a challenging time for many.

“With no work, many parents on zero-hours contracts haven’t been able to supplement their income to deal with this.

“The government is happy to give businesses millions of pounds but not to kids on free school meals.

“How middle class does the government think these families are? I’m not sure if any of ours have ever been to Waitrose.”

The Co-op, though, has the largest number of smaller supermarkets across Brighton and Hove.

Families in need across the country are receiving vouchers worth £15 a week for each qualifying child during term time to buy food.

The scheme was set up after schools closed because of the coronavirus outbreak, leaving children at risk of not having a daily hot lunch.

Free school meals are given to children from families receiving benefits such as income support or universal credit.

Before the voucher scheme started, schools locally provided a packed lunch for families to pick up if they were entitled to free school meals.

Councillor John Allcock

Labour councillor John Allcock, who chairs Brighton and Hove City Council’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee, welcomed the voucher scheme.

He said: “The current covid-19 pandemic is unprecedented and we must ensure that vulnerable people are supported, now more than ever.

“I’m glad the government is trying to respond to this and the voucher scheme is a welcome effort to help people feed their families in this difficult time.

“However, I understand that the eGift cards do not apply to all supermarkets yet.

“While Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Waitrose and M&S are included, others that operate in Brighton and Hove such as Aldi, Lidl and the Co-op are not.

“With the government guidance to avoid all unnecessary travel to reduce the spread of covid-19, we would, of course, want people to be able to use their vouchers in their nearest supermarkets.

“We understand the government is working to see if additional supermarkets can be added to this list and I will be contacting them to seek an update on this and offer any support we can give to make this possible.”

Brighton and Hove charity Chomp is raising money to provide food parcels for families in need as its school holiday lunch clubs are unable to operate because of the covid-19 crisis.

During the holidays the charity usually has nine lunch clubs offering activities for children and companionship for parents.

Donations have reached almost £1,900. Each food parcel costs £25 – and arts and crafts packs are £12.

To donate visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/chomp-emergency-appeal.

  1. Samuel Reply

    Lidl, Aldi and the Co-op will no cooperate. All decisions for Lidl, Aldi made in Germany.

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