Harlow Labour is concerned that the Free School Meal Scheme is letting down School’s, Parents and most of all Children in Harlow.
The Company, Edenred, have been tasked with issuing Free School Meal Vouchers and have come under criticism as the COVID-19 crisis has worsened and demand has increased.
Councillor Frances Mason said: “I have been hearing from Schools in Harlow who have been unable to access the system. They are being forced to use a range of methods to ensure lunch packs/food hampers are available for eligible children.
Parents have reported to me, various degrees of success and quality which has raised questions about where the food is being sourced.
Where schools have been successful in registering with Edenred, it is an ‘online system’ which relies on parents accessing the site on the internet and printing the vouchers, which is a problem for many families who do not have these facilities.
My concern is children in poverty in Harlow are being denied the right to fresh food and vegetables. This is exasperated by the financial hardship that these families are under at a time of national health crisis. This system, intended to do good for vulnerable children in Harlow, is flawed and needs to be overhauled quickly and efficiently, so no child is going hungry in Harlow.”
Vic Goddard, Co Principal of Passmores Academy, on the BBCr4today programme on 17/03/2020 advised he went ahead and purchased Supermarket Vouchers whilst our Government were making up their mind; he said ‘Sometimes you need to ask forgiveness and not permission’.
Mark Ingall, Leader of Harlow Council said “These are difficult times, whilst organisations are doing their best, sometimes mistakes can be made. Where schools have been unable to access the Supermarket Voucher system they should put this right urgently and I would suggest that giving food vouchers to the parents directly would be a much better way of distributing the benefit they are entitled to.”