Ruddington businesses, community groups and individuals are welcoming Nottinghamshire County Council’s announcement that it will provide the necessary funding for free school meals over this half term.
As we reported on Saturday, many in our village, including St Peter’s Junior School Headteacher Michael Bradley, were critical of the Government after a Commons bid to extend free school meal vouchers to holidays during the COVID-19 pandemic was rejected by MPs last week. It prompted footballer Marcus Rashford MBE to step in again with a new plea for local help from Councils and businesses.
Several Ruddington retailers, community groups and individuals immediately came forward offering free food during the half term break for all children who’re entitled to free school meals. Finally, today, the County Council has itself bowed to pressure to support the 22,000 local children who are eligible for free school meals across Nottinghamshire – including kids at our village schools. It says it will now cover the cost of these for this Autumn half term.
Any child in Ruddington who is currently entitled to free school meals will continue to receive support of £15 each week funded by the Council applied retrospectively for the half term period. It will be administered individually by our schools and paid for by the authority, to cover the cost of meals during the school holiday.
Councillor Philip Owen, Chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Children and Young People’s Committee, says: “We know that the pandemic has caused some families to struggle and we do not want the 22,000 children who rely on free school meals to go hungry this half term. We are pleased to have set aside over £650,000 of funding that’s needed to ensure children from some of our poorest families don’t go hungry. This scheme will support vulnerable children who might otherwise run the risk of missing out on receiving the food they need.”
He adds: “Appreciating that we’re already halfway through the school holidays, this scheme will be applied retrospectively for both weeks of the half term holiday. This means families are likely to hear about their child’s school’s details next week. We have been so impressed with how our schools have responded to supporting their pupils since this pandemic and we will be working closely with them to make this work in a way that suits their school communities best.”
The County Council is also pledging that similar arrangements will be put in place for the Christmas break – and that it will work with schools, other partners and with Government to confirm the details of these closer to the time.
The news coincides with another, expected announcement today that Rushcliffe is set set to move to Tier 3 COVID-19 restrictions. This follows lengthy discussions between Government and Council Leaders – and is likely to increase the financial worries for Ruddington families hit hardest by the Coronavirus pandemic.
These new measures to try to combat the spread of the Coronavirus will come into force at 00.01 this Thursday October 29th and expire in 28 days. As soon as it’s clear in practical terms exactly what Tier 3 in Nottinghamshire will mean for village residents, and for our many local businesses, we’ll let you know here at RUDDINGTON.info.