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Free School Meal Vouchers

In November, the Department for Work and Pensions announced a £170m COVID Winter Grant Scheme (CWGS), with Essex County Council (ECC) set to receive £3.8m. The CWGS aims to support children and families that need it with food, energy and water bills and household essentials over the winter period.


Some of this money will be used to provide free school meal vouchers to eligible children during the school holidays.


Parents and guardians of children and young people identified as eligible to receive food vouchers will receive a text message or an email from ECC’s voucher provider Wonde.


The vouchers can be used at a number of supermarkets and local shops, details of which you’ll see when the voucher is accessed. They can only be used to purchase non age-restricted items and will carry an alert to warn of this. Further details of the scheme are set out below.


If your child hasn’t previously received free school meals but your circumstances have recently changed, please speak to your school in the first instance.


If you or your family need support outside of the free school meals, please visit our website here You will find more information about how to access the initiatives that are being put into place across Essex this winter to help citizens.


Who is eligible to receive food vouchers?

Children and young people in education up to the age of 19 who are in receipt of Free School Meals are eligible to receive vouchers for the holiday period. Those in Key Stage 1 and Reception who currently receive Universal Infant Free School Meals but would be eligible for need-assessed Free School Meals if they were older are also eligible to receive holiday meal vouchers. You can check your child’s eligibility for free school meals on the website here


What will I receive if my child / young person has been identified as eligible?

Parents and guardians of children and young people identified as eligible for the scheme will receive a text message or an email from ECC’s voucher provider Wonde. This message will contain a link to ‘redeem a voucher’. You will be taken to Wonde’s ‘school vouchers’ page where you will need to enter your details and confirm your email address before being asked to select the retailer you wish to receive a voucher for. You will then be given a PIN and the option to view the voucher. Having confirmed the PIN, you will be issued your voucher. The voucher barcode can be printed off or scanned on a smartphone for use in-store.

Details of the process and more questions about Wonde can be found on their website here

We would like to thank all Essex schools for their support in helping administer this scheme at what is an already very busy time.

Processing Vouchers

You will shortly receive a test email or text from  This will give you a 1p voucher. Please use this to set up your account and we will then be able to send you your voucher entitlement for the school holidays.


The following link will give you advice on how to set up your account.


We have more information about Free School Meals on our Key Information Pages and healthy school pages.

Universal free school meals guide and being a healthy school