Families across the country are being warned to apply for free school meals this week, before the deadline for summer vouchers comes into force.

The scheme, which has been extended for millions of families on low incomes, means parents will receive £90 per child to cover their food expenses over the six week summer break.

It's available to those on certain benefits, such as universal credit, though figures suggest as many as 2.5million more people could be eligible for the money-saving initiative due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In guidance issued to schools, the Department for Education (DfE).said families have to submit their claims seven days before their child's school closes for summer.

And with most schools closing on the week of July 20, it means parents have just days left to apply for the full £90 benefit.

Some parents are rightly worried about how they will feed their children over summer

Through the free school meals Covid Summer Food Fund, eligible pupils will qualify for a £90 voucher to cover the six-week holiday period.

This is equivalent to £15 a week, THE DfE said.

If your child's summer holiday lasts seven full weeks (instead of six), schools will be able to increase the voucher to £105.

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Once parents or carers have received the voucher, they will be able to redeem it at any major UK supermarket - though Lidl and the Co-operative are not on the scheme.

This will be in the form of an electronic gift card - anyone unable to do this will be able to pick up a hard copy from their child's school.

The DfE said if you live in an area where your local supermarket is not supporting the scheme, you should get in touch with your school for alternative arrangements.

Will they be issued by my child's school?

Your child's school will submit your application and if eligible, your vouchers will be sent to you as an eCode of eGift Card.

Where can I spend free school meal vouchers?

Edenred eGift cards can be spent at:

Company Shop Group eGift cards are accepted in Community Shops and Company Shops. Further details can be found on their website.

How can I spend them?

Once families have received their voucher, they will be able to redeem them in store by either:

Is it too late to apply and who qualifies for free school meals?

Any child currently in receipt of free school meals will be eligible for the Covid Summer Food Fund. Universal Credit is one of the main qualifying terms - so if you have a child of school age, it's worth checking if you can claim the support.

The eligibility criteria for free school meals can be found at  apply for free school meals.