‘No child should go hungry this half-term’, says council

Cllr Catherine Gibbons is supporting Marcus Rashford's #EndChildFoodPoverty campaign.

Cllr Catherine Gibbons is supporting Marcus Rashford's #EndChildFoodPoverty campaign. - Credit: Archant

North Somerset Council will ensure that no child goes hungry this half-term following the Government’s decision to withdraw funding for free school meals outside term time.

The council will work with community organisations and businesses who have stepped-up to provide support to make sure no child in need goes without food next week and through other the school holidays.

Because of the lack of notice from the Government that the scheme would be withdrawn, a voucher system cannot be established in time for this half-term, but the council will commit to providing funding to underwrite the cost of free school meal support for any eligible family that needs it through arrangements with local partners.

Cllr Catherine Gibbons, the council’s executive member for children’s services said: “I’m extremely disappointed and surprised at the Government’s decision. Many families are struggling with the economic impact of coronavirus and will continue to do so while the pandemic is still with us.

“We must remember also that Universal Credit is not paid immediately on claim, so the holidays may be over before parents receive it.

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“Along with my fellow executive members, I’m calling on the Government to think again and commit to free school meal vouchers this half-term, at Christmas and in the new year.

“We are committed to working with our fantastic local community who are already doing so much to support those in need and have rallied round this weekend to gather food supplies for those in need.”

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In North Somerset’s constituencies, 3,595 children were eligible for free schools meals in the last school year, according to the latest Department for Education figures.

North Somerset’s MP, Dr Liam Fox, did not vote either way to support free school lunches to children during school holidays.

Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford has launched the #EndChildFoodPoverty Twitter campaign and has retweeted details of businesses across the area which are offering free school meals to children, including Ring O’ Bells in Nailsea and Jenny’s Café in Clevedon.

Any individual or organisation seeking support should visit www.n-somerset.gov.uk/together for more information.

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