Many parents who often receive free school meals for their children have been struggling during lockdown to make their money stretch to lunches.
After a viral campaign backed by footballer Marcus Rashford, the government gave out free meal vouchers worth £15 per week to families who would normally benefit from free school meals.
A lot of social media groups that focus on budgeting have shared meal plans, giving parents ideas on how to turn the £15 into a week’s worth of lunches for their children. Discount supermarkets are often favoured as parents believe they receive more value for money when shopping in stores such as Aldi and Lidl.
However one unexpected supermarket chain has announced a bold initiative that will help these parents spread their money further while ensuring they receive the best produce. Marks and Spencer have promised to increase the £15 meal vouchers to £20 when the vouchers are spent in store.
The initiative received mixed reviews. Struggling parents scoffed at the idea of buying food in Marks and Spencer as it’s known for its expensive luxury range and often frequented by those on a high income. However, Marks and Spencer tried to break this stereotype by sharing a meal plan that highlighted how easy it is to feed a child with £20 when spending in their store. In addition to this, they also claimed there was money left over for a filling, nutritious breakfast too.
To receive the extra £5 from M & S parents need to use their eCode, which is issued through the free school meals app, to obtain a Marks and Spencer gift card. The gift card is then automatically topped up with the extra five pounds.
The meal plan is imaginative and extremely useful for those on a budget, not only parents. There is a shopping list along with easy and quick recipes in a bright cheerful layout.
You can download the meal planner here. Meals include tortilla pizzas, three bear porridge and an indoor picnic.
There’s still controversy over whether the free school meal vouchers should be extended to cover February half term, while parliament are also debating on whether to keep the extra £20 per week given to claimants of Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit over the lockdown period.
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