Free school meal help at half term at Blackburn and Darwen Markets

Published Wednesday 10 February 2021 at 15:56

Free school meal vouchers will be available for eligible Blackburn with Darwen children for the February half term.

They can be used in both Blackburn and Darwen Markets and can be used at even more stalls than before. The new vouchers will be valid until 31st March 2021.

It is funded by The Covid Winter Grant which was received by the Council last year and supports families and children and other vulnerable adults through the winter period to access food, support with utility bills and other essentials to help keep people warm and fed.

The programme will run until 31st March and is primarily for families with children under 19 as of 31st March 2021 who may not meet the threshold for benefits but have been affected directly by the pandemic through job losses, furlough, taking time off work unpaid to care for children who are isolating etc, and for those who are eligible for free school meals, healthy start vouchers, young people not in education or training.  Some support for other vulnerable adults is also available where appropriate.


Darwen Market

The Council helped families and children in need through this scheme over the Christmas break and our efforts were highlighted by footballer Marcus Rashford on Twitter. The striker has become a leading light in the fight against food poverty and for food justice, lobbying the government to provide for children who need it most.

It is more important than ever to have nutritious, healthy food during the colder winter months, and even more important to help people keep healthy during the current pandemic.

The Covid Winter Grant is linked to the Food Resilience Alliance, which is a movement around food justice, to bring communities together to end food poverty in its many forms and aims to change the way we think about and eat food.

However, action is needed not just at a local level – big solutions from the Government are needed to tackle the inequalities that are the cause of food poverty to really solve the problem and make a difference.

Councillor Julie Gunn, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education, said:

I am so pleased we have been able to use the Covid Winter Grant to provide for the children in the borough who need it most. This pandemic has made many families and childrens’ lives more difficult and we want to do everything we can to help.

The work being done by Marcus Rashford is wonderful, and we as a Council are trying to support everyone who needs it. Everyone should see the importance of children not being hungry.

The stall holders in the market have been wonderful and have really helped with getting the scheme up and running, there is so much amazing food at our markets and I hope this will help the families who are part of the voucher scheme.”

Councillor Jackie Floyd, who helps to run the Blackburn Food Resilience Alliance, said:

This is a really important scheme and I am really pleased to see so many stallholders at the markets joining us in this. We need to leave no stone unturned in tackling food poverty as it is linked to every area of a family’s life and can massively affect children. These schemes do help with the here and now, and are part of building local relationships so that  together we work on  campaigns that cover the causes of food poverty properly as well as providing help now.”

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