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Co-op to fund free school meals throughout summer holidays

6,000 Co-op Academy students to continue to receive food vouchers to ensure kids don’t go hungry during the holidays

6,000 Co-op Academy students to continue to receive food vouchers to ensure kids don’t go hungry during the holidays

The Co-op today (16 June) announced that it will continue to provide lunch for all 6,000 students, who normally receive government funded free school meals at its 25 Co-op Academies, throughout the summer holidays.

The Co-op said it would ensure children would not go hungry back in March before schools were forced to close and the Government introduced its own scheme.

In a bid to make sure no child goes hungry when the schools close for the summer, the Co-op is the first retailer to back Marcus Rashford’s call for the Government to extend its own arrangements throughout the holidays.

Announcing the move Co-op Retail CEO, Jo Whitfield, said: “For many children who receive free school meals, lunch at school is the main meal of the day so when schools close, they could go hungry.

“We don’t think that’s fair on our students or their families who often struggle to keep food on the table, and it has an impact on the health and wellbeing of vulnerable families.

“So, we’re making sure the students attending our 25 Co-op Academies who we have supported throughout the Coronavirus crisis won’t miss out during the holidays , but we know this is a drop in the ocean when you consider there are 1.3 million kids on free school meals in this country. That’s why today I’m supporting Marcus Rashford’s important initiative on this and asking the Government to follow our lead and extend its scheme throughout the summer.”

As the matter is debated in Parliamentary, the Co-op is encouraging colleagues and members to write to their MP or sign the Labour Party petition urging the government to change course and fund meals for all eligible students.

The Co-op will provide all students receiving free school meals at its 25 Co-op Academy schools, located in the North of England, with a £20 voucher to spend in Co-op food stores – to spend each week while the schools are closed for the summer. The free school meal provision is approx. £2.70 per day.

The Co-op Academies Trust currently operates 25 schools and colleges in some of the most economically challenged areas across the North of England with more than 25,000 students and 2,400 colleagues.

In 2018 the Co-op announced it was putting a further £3.6m into its academies programme to kick-start the next growth phase which would see the number of schools increase to 40. Under this plan, the Trust is expected to grow to more than 40,000 students and 4,000 staff.