NEARLY 3,000 children in York who receive free school meals could also get food vouchers, funded by the council, to cover the Christmas holidays.

One resident whose children receive free school meals in York said the holiday vouchers mean they do not have to choose between keeping their family warm or keeping them fed.

City of York Council stepped in to provide children who are entitled to free school meals with vouchers during October half term - after the Government refused to back calls for the scheme to be extended.

York Labour councillors have now called for a similar response during the Christmas holidays - and will ask all councillors to back the plans at a meeting tonight.

According to the End Child Poverty Coalition, 24.9 per cent of children in York Central live in poverty and 16.2 per cent in York Outer. These are the latest figures from 2019, before the pandemic.

Labour councillor Bob Webb said: “We are asking that the council steps in to fund the voucher scheme to the amount of £15 per week per child over Christmas, which we believe will have wide, cross-party support in York.

“These figures show that between one in four and one in five children in York are living below the poverty line, and these figures will not take into account the damaging effect that covid-19 will have had on our city’s economy, an economy with significant numbers of low wage jobs and precarious employment in the service industry, these numbers are only likely to go one way.”

He highlighted that residents also need to meet a strict criteria to qualify for free school meals and said many families may not qualify but still struggle.

The Lib Dem and Green Party led council urgently put £42,750 towards supporting children on free school meals during half term.

And the council has extended support for people who get council tax support - including offering food parcels and discretionary free school meals. More than 6,100 residents have been given help to pay their council tax bills.