MORE THAN 11,000 food vouchers were handed out to children on the Isle of Wight over five weeks of school holidays.

The Isle of Wight Council issued 11,591 £15 vouchers paid for by the Department of Work and Pensions over school holidays who may otherwise have gone hungry.

Those vouchers supported 4,817 children eligible for school meals during periods of school holidays between December 2020 and May 2021.

Vouchers were also provided to 311 care leavers during the winter programme with 11 young people supported with fuel bills.

The figures were presented in an update about the Covid pandemic given to the Isle of Wight Council's policy and scrutiny committee for children's services, education and skills.

Suzanne Smith, the council's assistant director of children's services told the meeting yesterday (Thursday), they were unsure whether there will be support from government to provide food vouchers or meals over the summer holidays.

A sum of £47,370 was provided to schools, in a discretionary hardship fund to help support families who did not meet the eligibility criteria for certain degrees of help but who schools knew were struggling.

Schools had been able to use the money to provide vouchers to families themselves or other necessities like winter coats.

Overall, the discretionary fund was used to support 1,198 children.

A further £10,446 was shared between 11 schools to deliver 'edible kitchens' across the Island, benefiting over 800 children, providing breakfast clubs and vegetable gardens promoting healthy eating education in families.

Altogether a total of £615,666 has been given to the council by government to distribute to vulnerable families and individuals in the form of winter food and fuel grants.

To help support care leavers, £12,394 was provided in a wider hardship support fund for young people which prevented a number of them from falling into significant debt, and in one case reduced the risk of eviction.

Young carers on the Island were equally supported, with the YMCA's Young Carers Project being awarded £8,400 in funding to provide 104 young carers and their families with food vouchers and essential items.