Hospitality steps up to provide free meals to children in need during October half term
Hospitality businesses across the country have rallied round Marcus Rashford's campaign to provide free meals to children in need over the October half term.
The footballer forced a government U-turn on supplying school meal vouchers for eligible children over the summer holidays, but proposals to extend the scheme until Easter 2021 were voted down in the Commons yesterday.
Restaurants, bars and cafes have been contacting Rashford with offers to provide food to families in need next week, which he has been sharing on his Twitter feed.
Rashford tweeted: "Blown away by news of local businesses stepping up to fill the voucher scheme deficit during the October half term. Selflessness, kindness, togetherness, this is the England I know. Add #ENDCHILDFOODPOVERTY to your tweets so I can track them. I will share as many as I can."
Businesses taking part include the Chick 'n' Sours in London, Poachers pub in County Durham, the Dukes Head in Yarmouth, Portofino Ristorante in Harrogate and Lillies Coffee Shop in Rotherham.
Pearsons Bar in Hull wrote on Facebook: "The government's decision not to offer free school meals during the holidays at this time is quite frankly heartbreaking. Whilst we try as a business to avoid mixing with politics, we can't stand idly by whilst those less fortunate in the community struggle."
EJB Buffets & Banquets in Sutton Coldfield will be offering free packed lunches every day.
The company said: "This will be confidential and nobody should be ashamed of using this service! Times are even harder than usual financially and mentally and we all need to stick together."
Liverpool chef Dave Critchley, of Lu Ban restaurant, launched LIDS (Liverpool Independent Delivered Services) earlier this year to deliver food to people during the national lockdown. He is now raising money for children's packed lunches, which will be distributed by LIDS during half term.
Yesterday's vote has prompted a petition to end subsidised meals for MPs, who can claim taxpayer-funded expenses on food. Restaurants in parliament are not directly subsidised, but many operate at a loss so public money may be used to keep them operational.
No further budget announcements are expected by the government until spring 2021, but Rashford is keeping up the pressure with a petition signed by nearly 440,000 people.
He has set up a Child Food Poverty Taskforce, which has been backed by a number of caterers and foodservice suppliers.
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