Image Credit: Кирилл Венедиктов
The City of York Council has announced that they will be providing free school meals to children across York over the half term holidays, after the government refused to extend the free meal scheme.
The Council will use £43 000 of emergency funding to continue the scheme which provides children eligible for free school meals with meal vouchers to use in various stores. It is hoped this funding will reach 2 850 vulnerable children across the half term holiday.
This action follows a vote in Parliament last week which saw 320 Tory MP's, including York Outer MP Julian Sturdy, vote against extending the free school meal scheme for all school holidays until Easter 2021. The scheme – which was originally campaigned for by England footballer Marcus Rashford MBE – provided nearly 2 million children with £15 per week in food vouchers, to ensure they received substantial food during the summer holidays. Rashford showed his appraisal of York City Council’s announcement of the funding by retweeting it on Twitter.
The government’s refusal to support the Labour motion to extend the scheme has received significant criticism nationally, and many local councils including in Tier 3 areas such as Barnsley, and Conservative councils such as Kensington and Chelsea Borough, have already committed to offering free school meal vouchers to vulnerable children during the half term holidays. England is the only UK nation not extending the scheme across the half term holidays.
Many restaurants, cafés and chip shops across the country including York and the surrounding area will also be stepping up to offer children free meals over the half term holiday. The Northern Echo has provided a list of all restaurants in North Yorkshire that will contribute, which can be found here: https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/18817088.every-north-east-business-offering-kids-free-meals-half-term---see-list/
Leader of City York Council Keith Aspden told the York Press, “This has been a difficult year for everyone and as a council, we have been doing everything we can to support local residents. We want to ensure that children who receive Free School Meals don’t go hungry this half term. Nearly 3 000 children can access this support, with vouchers of £15 per child provided to all who are eligible for free school meals.”
“Staff at the city’s schools have been incredible in supporting children and families and once again they are stepping up to help administer this programme. I am incredibly grateful for all they are doing.”