Tesco is offering free children’s meals with any purchase at its supermarket cafes during the school summer holidays to help families struggling with the cost of living crisis.
The free meal, worth up to £3.25, is available to Clubcard holders with any item they buy at the retailer’s 311 cafes between 25 July and 26 August.
Asda and Morrisons have previously announced meal deals to support parents during the summer break.
The cheapest item shoppers can buy to get Tesco’s special offer is a piece of fruit for 60p. Other low-cost menu items include a bottle of water for 85p, £1 biscuits, £2 bakery items and £1.80 breakfast tea.
The children’s breakfast menu includes beans, eggs or avocado on toast, and the hot meal-deal options – which come with vegetables, a side and a drink – include sausages, macaroni cheese, chicken goujons or fish fingers.
There is also a cold packed-lunch option, including a sandwich, drink, piece of fruit and two snacks.
Other supermarkets have launched similar deals to help parents cope with increased costs. Asda is selling children’s meals for £1 from Monday, with no minimum adult spend. Children can eat for free in Morrisons cafes when adults purchase a meal for £4.99 or more.
The Asda offer has been included in the government’s Help for Households campaign to support Britons who are struggling as food and bill prices rise. The package also includes the reintroduction of the “feed your family for a fiver” campaign by Sainsbury’s.
The government initiative has been criticised by campaigners for not doing enough to support families.
Alison Garnham, the chief executive of Child Poverty Action Group, accused the government of “abandoning” children to “face a difficult summer with inadequate support”.
Experts have argued that the supermarket cafe children-eat-for-free deals encourage low-income households to feed their children ultra-processed junk food over the summer holidays.
Barbara Crowther from the food charity Sustain said children’s menus were often overloaded with foods full of saturated fat, salt and sugar. She said: “Too much consumption of those types of meals over the summer could store up major health problems for children in the longer term.”