Organisations across the UK, from big businesses and universities, to tiny nonprofits, have brought about a rare good news story this week by stepping in to provide food and support for families in need this half-term break.
They’ve all been encouraged by footballer and campaigner Marcus Rashford in his ongoing fight against food poverty — and as of Tuesday morning, the HuffPost reported 400 responses, and an estimated 10,000 meals provided on Monday alone.
So why are they all doing this? It’s because UK schools are off from Oct. 26-30, and that means children from low income families who rely on free school lunches won’t be accessing food at school — leading to a knock-on effect on already tight family budgets. In the midst of a hunger crisis and economic instability caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation is feared to be tougher than ever.
The House of Commons voted against a motion last week that would have granted an extension of the normal free school meals provision over all school holidays until Easter 2021, causing heated debate in the media and online.
The vote followed a campaign by Rashford, whose petition for the extension of the scheme earlier this month garnered hundreds of thousands of signatures in a matter of days.
The idea for widening provision of food during both school terms and during the holidays comes from the government-commissioned National Food Strategy, published in July, and has been promoted by Rashford ever since he successfully engaged the government to u-turn and extend meal support over the summer holiday.
Melanie Maynard House 💫 A new depot to support the growing need for @fareshareuk in Greater Manchester. The real superstars in this country can be found in the heart of most cities, towns and villages, working tirelessly to support our most vulnerable. To you all, THANK YOU for continuing to catch us when we fall ♥️
Undeterred by the vote, Rashford last week started to highlight organisations that were offering support in their local area on his Twitter feed, and as he has done so, more and more have joined in.
The list of organisations wanting to help has been truly heart-warming to see — and includes a whole range of businesses, football clubs, councils, educational institutions, charities, and of course restaurants and other food-related companies. Here are just a few of the beautiful responses:
The Bubble Inn, Derby, delivered 77 hot meals today pic.twitter.com/UDtDHdD8wQ— Darshna Soni (@darshnasoni) October 26, 2020
The Queen Mary Catering team are supporting Tower Hamlets Council this week by offering 250 meals a day for local families to tackle half-term hunger.— Queen Mary University of London (@QMUL) October 27, 2020
This will be taking place from 12-3pm on Thursday and Friday outside the Queens’ Building. More info:https://t.co/CbumEb6C8ypic.twitter.com/bzdMsCvtf8
FREE PACKED LUNCHES! We’ve partnered with @oldcoffeetavern in Warwick, to give away 150 packed lunches a day to children eligible for free school dinners (from Tues to Fri), no questions asked. Full details below👇 #endchildfoodpoverty#nochildshouldgohungrypic.twitter.com/nW2lZAtfAn— Playground Games (@WeArePlayground) October 26, 2020
We have been left outraged and saddened by our government #freeschoolmeals— Nottingham Street Food Club (@nottsstreetfood) October 26, 2020
We would like to offer our support to anyone who may be struggling to feed their children this half-term.
Read more here: https://t.co/fvqRx6ikcG
We stand by @MarcusRashford#ENDCHILDFOODPOVERTYpic.twitter.com/HRTNfNDgZs
If you're worried about keeping the kids' tummies full over half-term, head to Prezzo and pick up a free Pasta Box 🍝— @love_prezzo (@love_prezzo) October 27, 2020
From 11:30am-12pm Tues-Fri, we're giving out take-away boxes full of hot pomodoro pasta.
No charge, no strings, no questions asked ❤ #endchildpovertypic.twitter.com/fT1mBYaLMl
Successful day. Thank you to everyone who supported. Thank you @JesseLingard for the donations and the help. @GHStudiosCC working together we can make a difference. pic.twitter.com/QA5QvEUUnt— Miss Warden (@jesswarden3) October 26, 2020
45 lunches here at @SELFA_Charity in Skipton, North Yorkshire! pic.twitter.com/vtPPuHIbVr— SELFA Charity (@SELFA_Charity) October 26, 2020