Coronavirus: New Delays in Child Food Vouchers

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School meals

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Reuters

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Coupon program implemented in response to fear that children receiving free school meals will be hungry


Many families of children eligible for free school meals are experiencing delays of up to a week for supermarket vouchers, despite an upgrade to the website responsible for their delivery.

As part of a government program, needy families in England are expected to receive vouchers worth £ 15 per week per child.

The Edenred website that runs the program was rebuilt over the weekend, according to the Ministry of Education.

But some schools say they are still having trouble connecting.

Danny Sohal, director of business and resources at Chiswick School in west London, said on Tuesday that the coupons the school ordered on April 7 had finally been approved – although they did not still been emailed to parents.

But his April 8 orders had still not been processed.

Attempts to connect to the platform still encountered error messages.

And the phone queues were over an hour.

When his call was finally answered, Mr. Sohal was informed that error messages were being sent in an attempt to limit traffic to the site and allow Edenred to navigate the backlog, which, he added, could reach 16 million vouchers.

The education ministry said the site was removed on Thursday for an upgrade to increase capacity in the face of massive demand.

But orders placed before that should be processed on Tuesday.

  • Free school lunch program to continue during the holidays
  • Meal vouchers for free school meals for children

Ministers announced last week that the program will take place over the Easter holidays.

About 1.3 million children in England are entitled to free school meals and, until the program was announced, schools had made their own arrangements.

UK schools closed last month to all students except children of key workers such as doctors, nurses and delivery drivers, some vulnerable children and those with special educational needs more serious.

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