After the UK government abdicated its responsibility towards the nation's most vulnerable children on Wednesday — voting down a bill that would have provided pupils living in poverty with free school meals during half-term — businesses, charities and councils up and down the country have rallied to support children who will be left without a reliable source of food.
That includes many organisations in London, where a staggering 39% of children live in poverty. We've listed a few of these below, though if you are located elsewhere in the country, it's worth checking out Twitter, where Marcus Rashford, whose activism triggered this outpouring of community spirit, is publicising free children's meal offers up and down the country.
At the time of writing, many London councils including Brent, Southwark, Hackney, and Lambeth, have pledged to provide food vouchers for children eligible for free school meals during the half term.
Other councils such as Tower Hamlets and Greenwich have announced that they'll be distributing meals for children that meet these criteria at various locations around the boroughs. Contact your local council to find out how to claim.
As of April 2019, there were 2000 food banks in London — find your nearest one here. The Trussell Trust predicts a 61% rise in demand for food banks this winter owing to the coronavirus pandemic and many are running short of both produce and volunteers. If you are in a position to donate either your money or your time, do reach out to your local food banks to see what is needed.
A diverse range of restaurants, cafes and social enterprises around the capital are offering free children's meals during the capital. East London offerings include Randy's Wing Bar in Hackney Wick; Friends of Ours in Hoxton; and the Duke of Richmond in Hackney.
In West London Maryam's Kitchen in Ealing and Mr Singh's Pizza in Hounslow are offering free children's meals, while Castle Haven Community Association and Time to Help in Camden and Enfield, respectively have offered the same. Crushed Bean and Hersana — both in Croydon — are among those offering free children's meals down south.
This is just small selection of the organisations that have stepped up to the plate to help vulnerable children. It's worth checking out those local to you, as well as large franchises like McDonalds' who may be able to help if your family is in need.