An extraordinary meeting to consider whether the county council should step in to support families eligible for free school meals over the school holidays is set to go-ahead next week – despite the announcement of greater government funding.

Nationally there have been calls to extend the free school meal scheme during the school holidays, led by England footballer Marcus Rashford.

And more locally there have been calls by Liberal Democrat councillors for Hertfordshire County Council to set up its own system to support families over the holidays until Easter 2021.

The issue is due to be considered by an extraordinary meeting of the county council on November 17, following a request by Liberal Democrat councillors.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat group, Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst, says the meeting will go ahead, despite the announcement of greater government funding at the weekend.

According to the government, the package of measures, announced on Sunday, will "ensure vulnerable households do not go hungry or without essential items".

It includes a £170 million Covid Winter Grant Scheme, which the government says will allow councils to directly help the hardest-hit families and individuals – as well as provide food for children who need it over the holidays.

And it includes the pledge of a further £16million for food distribution charities.

The funding announcement has been welcomed by deputy county council leader Cllr Teresa Heritage, who is also executive member for children, young people and families.

But Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst says the funding is still "woefully short" - and said the request for an extremely rare extraordinary meeting will not be withdrawn.

Watford Observer:

Cllr Stephen Giles Medhurst

At the meeting the Liberal Democrat group is expected to push for greater support for those eligible for free school meals in the county, in the form of meals or vouchers

In a statement issued by the county council, Cllr Heritage said: “We welcome the government’s announcement of additional funding to support the most vulnerable in our communities through the new winter grant scheme.

"As a county council we are committed to supporting families across Hertfordshire, to ensure every child in the county has the best possible start in life.

"Over recent months we have provided vital support to those suffering from financial pressure as a result of the pandemic and are pleased this additional funding will help the hardest-hit families and individuals, as well as provide food for children who need it over the holidays.

"Ultimately, no child in Hertfordshire should be going hungry and we are working hard to ensure this is the case."

HertsHelp can be contacted on or on 0300 123 4044.