Half-Term Food Help for Families on Low Incomes


Help for families on low incomes to feed their children in half-term has been in the news lately, in particular because of the footballer Marcus Rashford's campaign on free school meals.

At Turn2us, we know that help for these families in the school holidays is extremely important. Children need nutritious meals at all times of the year if they are to be healthy and thrive. Families need help to cover the extra costs that school holidays bring with them, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

Joe Freeman, a member of the public who runs a personal site called #AllKidsMatter, has put together a map of places where help with food is being offered, based on information tweeted by Marcus Rashford.

The Money Saving Expert website has information on food schemes that it knows about to help feed hungry children during the school holidays. 

It is not possible for Turn2us to check all the information on these sites. Links to them are given for information purposes only.

Some of these schemes are being provided by community groups and individuals and are dependent on resources. They might be of a very temporary nature and stop being available at very short notice. We would advise families not to travel without checking that the schemes are still available and, because scammers may operate in some areas, to safeguard their children at all times.


There is no overall government help for low income families in England. 

However, many local authorities are providing holiday food schemes, often working with local organisations and businesses to ensure children don't go hungry during the school holidays.

Many food banks and soup kitchens are also providing support to families in the holidays.

Your local authority should be able advise you what is available in your area, including details of any welfare assistance scheme it has.

Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Executive is extending free school meal payments to cover both weeks of the October school holidays.

These payments will make up for the loss of a nutritious school meal that children would have received had schools been open.  

Payments will be made by the Northern Ireland Education Authority.


A £30 million package of funding is being made available to local authorities to support people facing financial hardship as a result of coronavirus (Covid-19), including money to provide free school meals over the school holidays.

Local authorities will be given flexibility to use £20 million, previously held in reserve for the Scottish Welfare Fund, to support people in their communities.

Find your local authority in Scotland


The Welsh Government has already confirmed that it will provide funding to local authorities during school holidays up to and including Easter 2021.

Where pupils, eligible for free school meals are not required to attend school during a firebreak, then funding will be made available to allow local authorities to provide food instead of free school meals. It will be up to each local authority to decide how it gives this help. 

Find your local authority in Wales

Food banks

The following organisations can advise on food banks in your area:

  • The Trussell Trust: A national charity that supports more than 1,200 food banks throughout the UK.

  • Independent Food Network: There are over 900 independent food banks across the UK.  This website has a map of these and more information about local ones can be obtained by contacting the network.

Please check arrangements with the food bank before travelling to see them. Many food banks only operate on certain days of the week or times of the day. You may also need a voucher from a local organisation such as Citizens Advice, the local council or other services to get help. The food bank will advise further.