Children receiving free school meals in Cornwall will continue to get them during half term – despite the Government refusing to cover the holiday break.

Cornwall Council has pledged to fund the meals using money from the Covid Winter Grant Scheme to feed more than 15,000 young people currently accessing the scheme in Cornwall.

The council has been forced to step in after the Department for Education told schools yesterday (Thursday) they would not be providing funding during the week's holiday period.

Instead, schools will be given funding of up to £15 per eligible child from the council, to support their local families.

Sally Hawken, cabinet member for children, public health and wellbeing, said: “The important contribution a healthy, nutritious school lunch makes towards children’s wider wellbeing cannot be underestimated.

“Like the rest of the country, the effect of the coronavirus pandemic in Cornwall is profound. Many families have seen their financial circumstances negatively impacted by lockdown, including a significant number working in Cornwall’s tourist and leisure industry.”

Since 2018 Cornwall Council has a run a programme called Filling the Holiday Gap, which provides small grants to community groups and volunteer organisations to provide activities and food for vulnerable young people. During the pandemic the scheme was used to give vouchers to those that missed the deadline for the government vouchers.

Councillor Hawken added: “There was an all-party parliamentary report in 2017 that looked at the impact of the summer holidays, where children couldn’t access school meal provision.

"It found that children were returning to school in a worse educational, health and developmental state than that in which they had left in the summer.

“With that in mind, we were concerned about the impact of the pandemic on those families already struggling here in Cornwall.”

The Covid Winter Grant Scheme, which is worth £1.8 million, has been given to the council to support households across Cornwall. The application process and funding criteria will be announced in the coming days.

For more information on the scheme or to register for free school meals visit