Co-op has announced it will be helping schools across the UK to provide free meals to eligible pupils through a gift card scheme, after asking the Government to guarantee school reimbursement.
Around 1.3m pupils are eligible for free school meals in the UK. During the coronavirus crisis, if a school is closed, or the school catering team cannot provide meals, the Government is providing schools with an allowance of £15 a week per child to fund free school meals for eligible pupils. Co-op hopes that the gift card scheme will allow many more children to continue to benefit.
Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education stated in a Education Select committee meeting that schools will be fully reimbursed and refunded for purchasing gift cards from Co-op. This new announcement will mean schools can now order gift cards directly from the convenience retailer for use in any of its 2,600 community stores and they can then be remotely topped up, so parents can continuously keep the one gift card.
At the outset of the crisis, the Co-op announced that the 6,500 students at the 25 Co-op Academies, who qualify for free school meals, would get £20 to spend in Co-op food stores for every week the schools are closed.
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