No child should go hungry this half-term – Council backs Rashford campaign

Hackney Council will support Marcus Rashford’s campaign and ensure that no child goes hungry this half-term following the Government’s failure to fund free school meal vouchers during the holiday.

Families whose children are eligible for free school meals and need emergency support will be able to contact a Council helpline to access vouchers, and the Council will support schools delivering their own crisis programmes.

Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Education, Young People and Children's Social Care
I am appalled at the Government’s failure to recognise the hardship that many families face this half-term following the inspirational campaign of Marcus Rashford.

That’s why Hackney Council will step in where the Government has stepped out.

In one of the richest countries in the world, it’s simply unacceptable that any child should go hungry and we’re determined not to let that happen next week. Whether it’s through our helpline or their school, parents will get the support they need during the holidays.

Ministers have had seven months to ensure a comprehensive package of help was in place for families struggling to make ends meet due to the impact of coronavirus. They have failed. They must act now to ensure that no family endures a Christmas with no food in the cupboards.
Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Education, Young People and Children's Social Care

Families whose child is normally eligible for free school meals and who are struggling this half-term should contact the Council on 020 8356 3000.

In Hackney, more than 11,000 pupils are eligible for free school meals. The Council has long worked with local food charities and organisations to ensure vulnerable families get support during the school holidays, including provision of vouchers to buy fresh fruit and vegetables.

Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney
I’m proud that so many schools, businesses and volunteers have already pledged to help struggling families this half-term. It is this Hackney spirit that makes me honoured to be their Mayor.

But feeding families shouldn’t rely on goodwill. As a proactive Council, we will step in for the most vulnerable, but the Government must listen and act to resolve this issue once and for all.
Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney

In 2018, the Council also agreed to fund free school meals for children in migrant and refugee families with ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ ─ a status that usually makes them ineligible for Government support.

In April, Mayor Philip Glanville and Deputy Mayor Bramble wrote to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to demand clarity about what provision would be put in place during school holidays – as well as asking the Government to expand where free school meal vouchers could be spent, supporting local businesses as well as supermarkets.

Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford’s End Child Food Poverty campaign called for an extension to free school meals, but a motion to provide 1.4million disadvantaged children in England with £15-a-week food vouchers during school holidays until Easter 2021 was voted down in Parliament this week.

The Council will also start work with schools and families over the coming weeks to ensure we have suitable provision for children entitled to Free School Meals over the Christmas period.