By David Henwood
Oxford Academy’s Emma Humphreys and an army of volunteers have developed a programme to deliver 300 meals to students on free school meals.
Emma’s army of some 30 volunteers, many from St Andrews Church depart from the Oxford Academy @TOA17 to nearly 270 families across a huge area, including families living in Barton, Blackbird Leys, Littlemore, Cowley, Rose Hill, Northway, Wood Farm, Berinsfield and even High Wycombe.
Emma, a science teacher at the Oxford Academy over the past eight weeks, has developed a strategic web of 18 routes that criss-cross the city. The programme is part of the National Schools Breakfast Programme also known as “The Magic Breakfast”, who during normal times supply the breakfasts for our students entitled to free school meals. We have decided to support families during this difficult time by delivering breakfast boxes to the front door.
Vicky Lavy, a volunteer from St Andrew’s Church, who helps organise volunteers said: “This is a highly valued project by many families”.
When asked what kind of response she receives on the doorstep, Emma replied: “Many families have a real sense of gratitude, and appreciate the kindness of all our volunteers. Our volunteers often pause for a chat; I remember one resident saying ‘they ought to put the flags out for you’. ‘When we heard this, it made us all feel good inside”.
Mum of three Sandra, who receives a breakfast box said: “it’s great that we are thought of in this way at the Academy, it hasn’t been easy, and this scheme does make a difference”.
Emma also spoke of future plans. “I know it has been difficult for food growers during the lockdown, however, I’m now looking to see how we can improve upon our current scheme by introducing vegetables”.
Do you have an allotment, small holding or even large holding, and would like to learn more on how to contribute vegetables? We would be delighted to put you in touch and with Emma contact email@example.com.
For your child to qualify for free school meals you must get one of the following benefits:
- Universal Credit and your household income after tax is less than £7,400 per year (not including any benefits you get)
- Child Tax Credit, as long as you are not getting Working Tax Credit and have an annual income of less than £16,190
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- The guarantee part of Pension Credit
- Asylum seeker support
Children aged between 16 and 18 who are getting Universal Credit in their own name can also get free school meals.
Families who were already getting free school meals on 31 March 2019 can carry on getting them until 31 December 2023, even if the household’s income changes. I just lost my job and claimed Universal Credit – will I be able to claim free school meals?
Most councils work out whether you can get free school meals based on your earnings in your previous assessment period for Universal Credit. This can mean that councils aren’t able to process your claim for free school meals until after you have received your first Universal Credit payment.
How do I apply for free school meals?
You need to get in touch with your local council to apply for free school meals. They may have their own application forms for you to fill in.
How much will I get?
Some schools are giving food direct to families instead of using vouchers or payments.
For schools that are giving vouchers or payments, different schools are giving different amounts, but it is generally around £15 per week per child.