by Pat Fellows

Top 3 things about the DFE’s latest guidance

Top 3 things about the DFE’s latest guidance

The start of 2021 has not been the new beginning that we had all hoped for, yet another lockdown and schools closed except for primary school pupils whose parents are essential workers and vulnerable children.

On Friday January 8th the Department for Education published the latest updated guidance for providing school meals during the coronavirus (Covid 19) outbreak.

Here are the top 3 things you need to know which I think are very positive and good news:

  1. The DfE are strongly encouraging the provision of food parcels to eligible free school meal pupils at home and, where kitchens are open, this should be the preferred approach instead of any form of voucher.
  2. The Government are funding an additional £3.50 per week for each eligible pupil receiving food parcel provision at home – at the moment, this support is covered during w/c 4th January until w/c 8th February 2021.
  3. Schools should speak to their school catering team or provider about the best arrangements for providing school meals for those pupils in school.


Also, the DfE are highlighting the benefits of providing food parcels which include key themes such as; reducing food waste, the continuation of financial support for school caterers and the benefits that a nutritious and varied food range brings to children’s education.

National Voucher Scheme – the DfE will open a national voucher scheme to provide supermarket vouchers via an online portal and further details will be published. However Government are strongly encouraging schools to work with their catering team or food supplier to adopt a food parcel. Vouchers will only be available through the national voucher scheme from the point it re-opens, however, any support provided since 4 January 2021 through food parcels can be claimed back from the DfE.

I do hope that school caterers will be able to persuade their head teachers to provide good quality parcels. Many parents are visiting schools to pick up Lesson Packs for their children, what an ideal opportunity to give them their free school meal parcel at the same time.

  • Bidfood has stocked up with ingredients and food products for your parcels and we are here to assist you with your requirements.
  • With only 1 week of primary schools being open for key workers children and vulnerable children the numbers attending are much higher than during the last lockdowns so let’s give them a hot meal where possible.


Although our industry is very fragmented with all the changes to education in recent years, school lunches have never been so important as we know that too many children are going hungry and poverty levels are rising.

I am going to end on a positive note, we now have 3 vaccines being rolled out.  I think that this will eventually lead to a return of a “new normal” later this year.

For now, thank you for your amazing and vital work, take care and keep safe.



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