Vulnerable Groups

Who is at risk and how are they being helped?

The government has identified 1.5 million people in the UK who are at elevated risk of the virus from a health perspective, but millions more will require support: the pandemic is taking hold in a Britain where too many people already struggle to afford enough nutritious food. Without the right help to deal with the conditions created by COVID-19, citizens who are economically vulnerable and food insecure may find themselves battling illness, hunger and debt. As a vulnerable group already at greater risk of food insecurity, children and young people could face further barriers to accessing affordable, nutritious food as a result of COVID-19.

We’ll be identifying the vulnerable groups, investigating how their needs are being addressed and finding opportunities to improve the response. In order to understand how COVID-19 is affecting children in the UK, we’ll be following developments in policy designed to protect them, and will create platforms from which young people can tell us about their experience of lockdown, and what they’re eating in quarantine.

Take a look at our breakdown of vulnerable groups during the COVID-19 crisis here, and find out more about the Food Foundation’s work on the Children’s #Right2Food Campaign.

Government announces free school meal vouchers WILL now be available over Easter

Following criticism of its confirmation that the free school meal replacement vouchers would only be available during term time, Michael Gove MP said at today’s briefing: “Parents have kept their children at home wherever possible, so we head into the Easter holiday weeks with school attendance having been around 2 per cent, ensuring the most vulnerable can be cared for.

“For children eligible for free school meals, vouchers will be available through the holidays to support household income.”

Schools Week writes about it in more detail.

Food Foundations writes to the Department for Education again about holiday food insecurity

In a letter to Gavin Williamson CBE MP signed by the Food Foundation, School Food Matters, Sustain and other campaigning organisations, experts draw attention to the fact that, come the Easter holidays, millions of children could need statutory help in order to access enough food:

“The loss of free school meals during school holidays typically adds £30-40 per week to household food spending. With even more families affected through loss of income and illness, the need to maintain support to feed children during the holidays has become imperative.”

Read the letter in full here.

Government free school meal voucher scheme launches, but will not extend into Easter holiday

The government has published guidance indicating that children eligible for free school meals will benefit from a national voucher scheme allowing them to continue to access meals whilst they stay at home. Where schools cannot continue to provide meals for collection or delivery, they are advised to provide every eligible child with a weekly shopping voucher worth £15 to spend at supermarkets while schools are closed due to coronavirus.

The guidance stipulated that ‘vouchers are for term-time only’, meaning 1.3 million children could be facing holiday food insecurity over the Easter break.