Wrexham Council hands out hundreds of food bags per week to ensure children don’t get hungry during lockdown
Wrexham Council has revealed how it is handing out hundreds of food bags per week to ensure children don’t go hungry during the coronavirus lockdown.
The local authority first started offering a “grab and go” system for youngsters who receive free meals after schools closed their doors in March.
The original scheme saw packed lunches made available from a number of collection points across the county borough.
Following a low uptake from parents, it was later dropped in favour of providing monthly payments equating to £19.50 per week for each eligible child.
However, council leader Mark Pritchard said it was recognised there was a danger some families might not spend the money on food.
The authority’s education department has since teamed up with social services to identify vulnerable children and provide them with a large weekly bag of produce to make sure they are fed.
Cllr Pritchard said: “Let’s be frank here, even though you’re paying the money out, it doesn’t guarantee the money will be spent on food.
“What we’ve done through the social care team and education is giving extra support food to these vulnerable families.
“The money was probably enough and it was welcomed, but we felt there were still children and families who could fall through the net so we went that extra mile.
“I do believe that people are now following suit because they’ve realised what we’ve done.”
A community group previously estimated that less than one in ten of around 3,000 children on free schools in Wrexham had been receiving them under the initial “grab and go” system.
One councillor said she had also been approached by parents concerned about social distancing when picking lunches up, as well highlighting issues with the contents of the packs.
The cash transfer scheme came into effect at the beginning of May after the Welsh Government announced funding to support it, with two sets of payments made so far.
Cllr Pritchard added: “We worked tirelessly to set up hubs within communities at nine schools and we offered a grab and go bag.
“That worked, but the problem is there wasn’t a big take up. That wasn’t our fault, we prepared the food and if the parents didn’t come for it, they didn’t come for it.
“We worked extremely hard with the Welsh Government and other leaders for them to announce direct payments.”
By Liam Randall – BBC Local Democracy Reporter (more here on the LDR scheme)
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