Sheffield City Council has promised to support thousands of children and young people with free meals during the half-term school holidays.

Earlier this week, the Government ruled out a centrally funded extension of free meals to children beyond term time, with MPs voting down a motion put forward by the Labour Party by 61 votes. 

Councillor Julie Dore, the Leader of Sheffield City Council, said: “Following the decision by the Government not to support free school meals over the half term, I feel strongly enough to make sure children and young people in Sheffield don’t go hungry over the holidays.

“As we move into Tier 3, an increased number of families across the city will be facing financial hardship, especially as we enter the winter months.

“The vouchers will provide support to people who are most in need and even though the council budget is under massive pressures due to Covid-19, it feels like the right thing to do.”

Labour-run Sheffield City Council will provide vouchers of £15 per child per week to children who are eligible for free school meals, supporting 22,000 children across the city.

The total cost of this to the council’s budget will be £330,000.

Julie Dore expressed her disappointment at the Government who she said will “stand by and do nothing”. 

She added: “This is something that should be funded by the central government. It should not be down to individual councils creating a postcode lottery for whether children go hungry or not.”

The Government said that it had given councils £63m for families facing financial difficulties due to pandemic restrictions and had increased welfare support by £9.3bn.

Marcus Rashford, the England and Manchester United striker, has seen  growing support for his  free school meals campaign after the Governments’ announcement this week, promoting businesses all over the country to help those children in need.

Sheffield City Council will work with schools and communities to administer the programme in the coming weeks. 

In addition to support from the City Council, more than half a dozen local businesses in Sheffield have been pledging their support back to the local community and their loyal customers.

Lotte on the Edge (pictured), a café located in Nether Edge, posted on their Instagram revealing their support plan.

The café will be giving any child a free toastie, cookie or hot chocolate when they come in with a parent or guardian from Thursday 29 October.

The post said: “This is our way of saying thank you to those families who have supported our family during lockdown by ordering from us.

“Although this may be very small, we hope it brings a smile to some children’s faces during this dark time.”

Charlotte Carey, owner of Lottie on the Edge, told Forge Press: “No child in this day and age should go hungry! Unfortunately, I can’t give more, but hopefully this small treat will bring a little happiness to these children.”

Image Credit: Instagram

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