Over 100,000 food vouchers distributed to combat Covid hardship at Christmas

Hampshire’s helping hand this Christmas has seen more than 105,000 food vouchers worth £15 each, given to the families of over 35,000 children and young people across the county, ensuring that they are not left hungry during the Christmas holidays

Dec 22 2020

Part of Hampshire County Council’s recently launched connect4communities programme, the food voucher scheme aims to help those facing hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been funded from the £2.89 million Covid Winter Grant Scheme allocation, awarded to the Authority by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). 

Councillor Patricia Stallard, the County Council’s Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services and Young People, said: “This scheme has allowed us to do what we can to help parents to be able to afford to buy enough food to feed their children over the Christmas and New Year holidays. With this food voucher scheme, we aim to help avoid children and young people in Hampshire having to go hungry during the school holidays. 

“I am grateful to all those who have gone further than the extra mile to deliver this scheme in time for the end of term. I am deeply appreciative of the role that early years providers, schools and colleges have played in this – without their support to purchase and distribute vouchers to eligible families, we would not have managed this enormous task within the unavoidable tight timescale.”

Each eligible household has received a voucher for each child, for both weeks of the holiday (and will also be receiving a voucher ahead of the February half term week). Worth £15 per week, the vouchers can be used at a wide range of supermarkets.  In line with the DWP’s funding criteria, food vouchers have been given to:
* All families whose children are eligible for free school meals
* Children being supported by a social worker
* Children receiving early help services from the County Council’s Family Support Service
* 2-4 year olds accessing childcare and eligible for Early Years Pupil Premium, or 
* 16-18 year olds who were previously eligible for free school meals

Further support was put in place for families for Christmas and the remainder of the winter season, with each school and college being provided with a Discretionary Grant Fund. Schools and colleges have the flexibility to use this grant funding to help support families who may not be immediately eligible for the voucher scheme but find themselves struggling financially; for example, where a parent has lost their job due to COVID-19. The money can be used to help families with food and other essential items, such as energy cards/tokens to pay fuel bills.

Anyone who would like to find out more information about the connect4communities programme can visit the website: connect4communities.org