Anger as Edenred wins award for FSM voucher response
The company responsible for administering the free school meals (FSM) voucher scheme during lockdown has won two industry awards, leading to expressions of anger and frustration from many school leaders and administrators. Edenred UK won the ‘Best Covid Response Initiative’, as well as ‘Best Lockdown Team’ awards from the Gift Card and Voucher Association (CVGA) at the GCVA Connect Special Awards on Wednesday 11 November.
The FSM voucher scheme, launched on 31 March 2020 after many schools were unable to deliver school meals provision due to the national lockdown, was administered by Edenred UK who were awarded a contract worth £234 million to do so. However, there were widespread reports from schools of delays and technical issues, with senior leaders saying they were spending hours attempting to obtain vouchers. By May 2020, MPs on the education select committee were prompted to write to the Department for Education to ask what action was being taken to resolve the ongoing ‘delays and issues’.
News of the awards from the CVGA saw many teachers and school administrators taking to social media to express their feelings. On Twitter a tweet from the CVGA confirming the winners of the various awards received a number of angry responses, with several correspondents asking if the CVGA had talked to school workers during the deliberation process. A number of users also shared Edenred UK’s tweet announcing their win, adding laughing or crying emojis to indicate their surprise. Edenred UK’s tweet read: ‘We're delighted to have been awarded 'Best Covid Response Initiative' with our partner Tillo & 'Best Lockdown Team' at the GCVA Connect Special Awards, for delivering the free school meals scheme. We were grateful to play a part in helping families through this difficult time’.
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