Will the Free School Meals Direct payment scheme continue over the summer?
The Free School Meals Direct (FSM) payment scheme was set up to provide assistance to families in lieu of free school meals when schools were closed during term time due to Covid-19. The scheme ran from 23 March until the end of the school term on 30 June and is now closed as free school meals are only provided during term time.
What is the Summer Food Payment scheme?
The Executive has approved a summer food payment scheme to make payments to families of over 102,000 children during the months of July and August. This scheme is only for those children who were entitled to free school meals on 30 June 2020. It is specifically to ensure the welfare of children is not impacted by going hungry during the summer holidays, particularly with social distancing requirements impacting on normal summer schemes which provide support, including food, to vulnerable children during the summer.
How will payments be made?
The summer food payment scheme will be in the form of two separate grant payments. The first payment will cover the period 1 July 2020 to 31 July 2020 and the second payment will cover the period 3 August to 31 August 2020 or when schools reopen.
How much is the grant worth?
The grant is equivalent to the cost of a Free School Meal (£2.70) for 5 days per week. The grant will be paid in two separate payments – one in July and one in August. The first payment will be for £62.10 per child and cover the period 1 July – 31 July (Monday to Friday) and the second payment will be for £56.70 per child and cover the period 3 August – 31 August (Monday to Friday) or when schools reopen.
How do I apply?
There is no need to apply. If your child was entitled for free school meals on 30 June 2020 then you will be eligible for the payment and you will receive it automatically in the same way as you received your FSM direct payment. The free school meals eligibility criteria can be found on NI Direct - Nutrition and school lunches.
I intend applying for free school meals for the 2020/21 school year. Will I be eligible for this payment?
If you are a new applicant and your child did not qualify for free school meals on 30 June 2020 and you did not receive FSM direct payments you will not be eligible for this payment. Your entitlement for free school meals will begin when schools reopen for the new 2020/21 school year.
How will this be paid?
The payment equates to £2.70 per week day for each eligible child. This will be paid in two instalments over the summer. The payments will be made direct to bank accounts, by cheque or by Aspen card on week commencing 6 July and week commencing 3 August 2020. If you think you are eligible for this payment and do not receive your payment during that week you should contact the Education Authority.