Providing Free School Meals During Lockdown

Providing Free School Meals During Lockdown
Providing Free School Meals During Lockdown
24 November 2020

How councils responded to the challenge in the spring and summer of 2020.

This report looks at how councils approached the challenge of continuing to provide free school meals during the national lockdown in spring and summer 2020.

We looked at how councils approached the challenge of continuing to provide free school meals during the national lockdown in the spring and summer of 2020, whilst schools were closed for normal classes.

We undertook this work as part of our COVID-19 learning project. Our aim was to identify how councils adapted their free school meals service during the lockdown, and particularly if there are any learning points as a result of this experience both for councils and the wider public sector. 

Our main outcomes and learning points:

Uptake of school meals increased and councils felt they were better placed for any future school closures 

  • In June 2020, most councils reported an increase in the number of eligible free school meals pupils during the Covid-19 pandemic.  
  • The uptake of alternative free school meals ranged from 85% to 100%, an increase from a national figure of 77% pre-Covid. 
  • 17 councils responded to our request for information and they told us in June that they were confident that should school closures happen again they are now better placed to maintain free school meal provision. 
  • Arrangements for providing free school meals provision continue to be tested with the firebreak ‘lockdown’ that took place in October/November 2020 and on-going incidences of pupils being required to self-isolate. 

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