Nearly 3,000 York children WILL now get free school meals over half-term – thanks to the council

Photograph: Chris Radburn / PA Wire
23 Oct 2020 @ 4.25 pm
| News

After the government voted down plans to provide free school meals over the half term holiday, City of York Council has stepped in to help.

Earlier this week 322 MPs voted against providing funding to provide meals to eligible children over upcoming holidays, dismissing cross-party calls to not let children go hungry this winter.

Today York council pledged £43,000 of emergency funding to continue supporting 2,850 children and young people eligible for free school meals during the half-term week, with a plan to be brought forward for future holidays.

The council says it will work with schools and communities to provide £15 vouchers per child, per week to all who are eligible for free school meals.

This follows the impassioned campaign led by footballer Marcus Rashford, who has used his platform to call for the government to act now to end child food poverty across the country.

‘No child should go hungry’

Marcus Rashford is campaigning for free school meals for children in the holidays

Cllr Keith Aspden, Liberal Democrat Leader of City of York Council, said: “Whilst it is clear after what happened this week that the government are willing to stand by and do nothing whilst vulnerable children go hungry, as a council we are not.

“With so many families across the city facing financial hardship, especially as we enter the winter months, the council has made a commitment today to step in where the Government has failed.

“It should not be down to individual councils to patchwork this government’s failures.

“Despite facing major financial pressures, we continue to provide crucial support at what is such a challenging time for so many, as it is simply the right thing to do.

“No child should go hungry. We hope this support goes some way in providing support to families who are most in need.”

Cllr Danny Myers, leader of the Labour group, praised the move and added: “This agreement appears to follow a number of other councils nationally in addressing holiday hunger for October half term, but we must find a longer term solution to the problem of kids going hungry when schools are closed.

“So Labour will still be proposing an emergency motion to next week’s council meeting for all councillors to consider how we address this problem over the Christmas holidays and beyond.  We hope other parties will recognise the importance of this issue and work with us to find a solution.”