Good afternoon parents and carers,
Although many of you have still not received your e-mail from the government's new Free School Meals voucher provider, I am pleased to say that the first few parents have. These parents have reported to me that they have received the e-mail and then clicked 'redeem', allowing them to choose the supermarket of their choice and create their voucher, which will according to the e-mail, be finally e-mailed to them within 24 hours, ready to use in store. They have warned that this has taken between 30-60 minutes, but from my own experience, I would advise that the website works more smoothly late at night or very early in the morning (before 9am).
The parents who have had success have also managed to create a £15 voucher for Morrison's (which had been a concern yesterday).
I expect the remaining e-mails to be delivered from the online provider very soon so that all of the parents who are eligible and have given us their e-mail address will be able to create the e-vouches tomorrow.
I realise that this has been a huge frustration and cause of anxiety, and we have answered many phone calls and e-mails today from parents who are patiently waiting for the voucher to arrive. I will be submitting next week's order tonight, when I can get access to the website, so that the order comes through earlier next week. I will also be able to order a few weeks in advance, so that the system should become much smoother as the weeks go by. Thank you so much for your patience and support while we have been getting this new system off the ground.
If you are still waiting, and you are struggling financially, we do have some 'backup plan' £10 vouchers for ASDA at school. For this week only, if it would help, you may go to school tomorrow to collect one voucher per eligible child (must be registered for benefits-related Free School Meals with the local authority). This will be in addition to the e-voucher that you should get shortly.
I can only apologise once again for any distress that this new system has caused - I have spent most of the last week along with many colleagues during the last week on this, so share your pain. We have been working very hard and are ahead of some other very frustrated schools in this process. Fingers crossed it will be easier moving forward.