17th June 2021

Food support for families over May half-term

Somerset County Council will continue to provide help to families in need of food support over the May half-term period.

At its Full Council meeting on Wednesday, May 5, the Council Leader Cllr David Fothergill confirmed plans to allocate a total of £250,000 of funding to schools in Somerset to fund food vouchers over the May half-term.

This will provide vouchers for the 14,509 children in Somerset eligible for Free School Meals, plus an additional allocation which schools can use to provide help to other families who they feel would also benefit from support.

Somerset County Council has been working to tackle holiday hunger during the pandemic, providing funding for food and vouchers over October half-term, Christmas, February half-term and the Easter holidays.

Cllr Fothergill said: “We are determined to ensure no-one in Somerset goes hungry. This has undoubtedly been a difficult year for many families, and it is good that we can provide this funding to help at this time.

“Importantly, we have made sure that anyone who receives food support is made aware of the network of further support that is available to help them address other underlying issues, including financial advice and mental health support, housing advice and help with transport.”

Further support has been provided for young people in Somerset who qualify for Free School Meals through the Holiday Activities and Food programme supported by the Department for Education.

Somerset County Council joined forces with the Somerset Activity and Sports Partnership (SASP) to deliver food and fun activities to more than 2,500 children during the recent Easter holidays. Work is currently underway to expand the programme for the upcoming Summer holidays.

Somerset’s wider emergency food response to the pandemic has seen more than 500,000 meals and items of food delivered to communities, families and individuals across Somerset through the Somerset Food Resilience Taskforce.

The Taskforce is a great example of partnership working involving Somerset’s Local Authorities, Village Agents, Fareshare, and numerous voluntary and community groups.

Work is underway to establish a sustainable model of food support for post-Covid which will continue to provide the appropriate support at the earliest opportunity and enable people to get the help they need. This includes supporting the development of community pantries and food projects, and continuing our close relationships with the Village Agents, Citizens Advice and community and voluntary groups.

Anyone in Somerset who needs support with access to food or medicines, or emotional and financial support, can call the Somerset Coronavirus Helpline on 0300 790 6275, seven days a week, 8am to 6pm, or visit the CCS Village Agents website https://somersetagents.org/help-with-food/.