Education Partnership North East’s colleges have committed to offering free meals to their most vulnerable students over the summer. 

    The group, which includes Hartlepool Sixth Form, Sunderland College and Northumberland College, announced the payment scheme would continue to provide vital support to families in need during these difficult times. 

    Following a campaign by Manchester United and England footballer, Marcus Rashford, the Government reversed their decision to stop providing free meals for over 1.3 million eligible children in England past the current academic year, with Education Partnership North East ensuring the same will apply to their 16-18 year old learners. 

    Ruth Magnus, Director of Student Services, said: “We feel strongly that all of our students should be entitled to healthy and nutritious food, more so given the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on families. 

    “We have certainly been inspired by Marcus Rashford’s campaign and are pleased the decision to end the scheme for schools has just been reversed. 

    “It is vital we support the communities in which we operate; our staff have volunteered their time, we have supported NHS staff by providing valuable PPE, and donated unused stock from our refectories and canteens to local foodbanks.  

    “The pressure on many households has never been greater and it is our moral duty to feed our most vulnerable learners throughout the summer.” 

    Food poverty is a day-to-day reality for more and more people in the UK, with one in four parents skipping meals in order to make ends meet, and the problems are often worse during the school holidays. 

    So far Education Partnership North East has supported almost 900 eligible students through its free meal scheme, spending £10,000 to help those who are actively engaged in their learning. 

    The college’s scheme will run from 6th July to 22nd August, with payments being made fortnightly (on Friday) into a nominated bank account. Those students who receive supermarket vouchers will continue to do so. 

    For more information, email welfare@educationpartnershipne.ac.uk. 

    Why Education Partnership North East (EPNE)?

    Highly commended - Employer of the Year, Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards 2019

    Engagement with Employers - Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Award 2017

    (Sunderland College On-programme Survey 2017)

    Selected by DfE for 2021 T Level pilot to deliver the new high-quality technical qualifications.

    98% overall employer satisfaction - Employer Survey 2018/19