Who qualifies for food vouchers?
Every child who gets free school meals because of low income can get a food voucher for the February half term holiday.
Some other families are also eligible based on financial hardship, including those with pre-school children.
To get food vouchers you need to meet one of the following criteria:
1. Child aged 3 to 18 in a Derbyshire school (nursery to year 13)
To qualify your child must:
- be eligible and registered for free school meals because of low household income and
- go to a school in Derbyshire
How you will get your food voucher:
- we'll contact you by text message on the mobile number supplied by your school between 8 February 2021 and 19 February 2021- please make sure your school has your up-to-date mobile phone and email address
2. Child aged 3 or 4 not in a Derbyshire school nursery
To qualify your child must:
- receive free (funded) childcare
- qualify for 'early years pupil premium' based on low income (this is sometimes called ‘economic funding’)
How you'll get your food voucher:
- we'll contact you by email or text to the number or email address supplied by your school between 8 February 2021 and 19 February 2021 - please make sure your school has your up-to-date mobile phone and email address
3. Child aged 2
To qualify your child must:
- be eligible and receiving for free 2 year old childcare because of low household income
- attend a Derbyshire early years setting
How you will get your food voucher:
- we'll contact you by email or text to the number or email address supplied by your school between 8 February 2021 and 19 February 2021 - please make sure your school has your up to date mobile phone and email address
In addition, young people aged 16 to 18 who have left our care are also eligible for a voucher. We'll contact all 16 to 18 care leavers by email or text message.
How many vouchers you will get
Each eligible child will receive one voucher even if they meet the criteria for more than one category. A family can receive a voucher for every eligible child.
If you're not currently registered for free schools meals or 2, 3 or 4-year-old funding and believe you are eligible please register.
You'll need to be registered by 9 February 2021 to be eligible for the vouchers.
How you'll get your food voucher
If your family is eligible and we have your contact details (from your school or because you applied for free childcare based on low income) we'll send electronic vouchers direct to your mobile phone by text or via email between 8 February 2021 and 19 February 2021.
Further information about the food vouchers
If you live outside Derbyshire but your child attends a Derbyshire school
If you're eligible you'll receive shopping vouchers from us. Your school has provided your mobile phone number to us.
If you live in Derbyshire but your child attends a school outside Derbyshire
If you're eligible your child should receive their vouchers or other support from the council in the area where they go to school. Please speak to your child's school for more information.
Your child is aged 16 to 18 and goes to a further education college or other provider including an apprenticeship
If your child goes to a college or other 16 to 18 provider either inside or outside Derbyshire and you're on a low income you should speak to student services at your child's college or provider to find out what help is available.
You may also be able to get other support.
The amount you'll get
You'll get £30 per eligible child as an electronic shopping voucher for the Christmas period.
You'll get another voucher in February if you are still eligible. The amount of the February payment will depend on the number of children who qualify at that time.
Using your food voucher
The electronic vouchers are simple to use.
When you receive your text message or email follow the instructions.
The text message or email will contain a link to download your voucher. You'll not receive a further message from us or from your school. Everything you need is in the text or email message you receive from us. You must download your chosen voucher within 30 days or the message will expire. Once you've downloaded the voucher it will be valid for at least a year depending on which store voucher you've chosen.
You'll need to choose which supermarket you want to get your voucher from.
The voucher will then be downloaded onto your phone or other device.
You can show the voucher on your mobile phone at the checkout and it will be scanned.
You can also print the voucher out if you want to.
You can spend the voucher on food and other household essentials such as cleaning materials and sanitary products.
Watch out for scammers. A text or email from us will never ask for your bank details.
Where can you use the voucher
The following stores accept the vouchers:
Out of stock vouchers and voucher errors
The number of vouchers being requested from supermarkets across the country are unprecedented and on occasion this is showing as an out of stock message or an error message. You may see the following message when you process your voucher:
- if an 'out of stock' marker is on a selection button or if a red error message comes up on the screen when a selection is made
Some of the supermarkets are able to produce digital gift vouchers on demand, whereas others can't and need to produce them in large batches in advance. In cases where the supermarket has to produce them in advance, it can sometimes happen that a nationwide spike in demand causes them to run out very quickly and show 'out of stock'. It may take up to 2 working days for this to become available again, but is often much quicker.
- if the selection can be made from the list of supermarket brands, but then there is some sort of error on the gift card that comes through
If you wait a few moments and hit refresh on the voucher link that came through - this should then be ok.
If we haven't been in touch by 19 February
If you think your child qualifies for a food voucher follow these steps.
Check your email ‘junk’ or ‘spam’ folders and make sure you have not blocked any texts from unknown callers.
Use the list to check your income means you qualify for free school meals.
Being eligible for free school meals (even if you choose not to take them) is the main criteria for food vouchers.
Your child may qualify for free school meals if you get any of the following:
- Income Support
- income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- the guaranteed element of Pension Credit
- Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
- Working Tax Credit run-on - paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
- Universal Credit - on or after 1 April 2018 your household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get)
If you've not received your electronic voucher by text or email by 18 February 2021 you will be able to report this via our online form that will be live from 19 February 2021.
We'll need a few details from you including your national insurance number.
Please only use the online form and do not contact Call Derbyshire or your school as they'll not be able to assist you.
More help over winter
You can find out about other help you could get with money, other grants, food, heating and benefits on our advice and support page.
Children in key stage 1
All children in key stage 1 (infants: reception to year 2) receive free school meals if their parents want them – this is sometimes called ‘universal free school meals’.
Only key stage 1 children whose families are on a low income qualify for a food voucher. Your child’s school will hold this information and have supplied a parent's mobile phone number to us so we can send the food voucher.
If you think your key stage 1 child might be eligible for a food voucher because of your low household income and your school is not aware of this you should apply for free school meals.
You've received a voucher for one child but not your other children
You'll be able to report this via our online form that will be live from 19 February 2021.
Your privacy is important to us.
When you use your electronic voucher to pay in a shop there is nothing to show that it is a free food voucher. The vouchers are shop gift cards which are sent as gifts by millions of people of every day.
If we've sent your voucher by mobile phone or text then we'll have your details:
- from your child's school - we'll only use your mobile number or email address to contact you about food vouchers - you can find out more about privacy
- because you provided this information to us when applying for free childcare or applying to the Derbyshire Discretionary Fund
If your circumstance change
We cannot send out backdated vouchers but if your circumstances have changed please fill in our online form so we can update our records and make sure you get vouchers in the future.
Terms and conditions
You can read a full list of the terms and conditions.