Northampton College has confirmed it will continue to offer free meals to the most vulnerable 16 to 18-year-old students over the summer holidays.
The government was forced into a U-turn on its decision not to provide free lunch vouchers to school pupils during August following a campaign led by Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford.
Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson announced the creation of a £120 million COVID summer food fund last month, but the scheme is expected to benefit only students up to the age of 16.
Northampton College had already pledged to continue to fund the meals for 349 eligible 16 to 18-year-old students throughout the holidays, at a cost of £69,800.
Mark Owen, Assistant Principal for Student Services at Northampton College, said: “Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak we have been committed to supporting the most vulnerable members of our society. We have already distributed £400 in cheques to families eligible for free meals and they will be receiving a third cheque for a further £200 shortly to help them throughout the summer holidays.
“The financial impact of this pandemic on households across the country has been immense and, as the college in the community, we are determined to do all we can to help ease the burden on those under-pressure families and feed out most vulnerable learners throughout the summer.
“Marcus Rashford’s campaign has inspired change in the corridors of power at Westminster. We had already taken the decision to run our own scheme for our 16 to 18-year-old learners throughout the holidays as we overwhelmingly felt it was the right and proper thing to do.”
Rashford penned an open letter to MPs about his own experience of relying on free school meals, forcing Downing Street to reverse its decision and approve the extension to the programme.
Northampton College’s scheme, which runs until September 4, will be funded from the existing discretionary budget it receives from the Department for Education for offering free meals.
For more information on Northampton College visit www.northamptoncollege.ac.uk