Coventry comes together to provide free school meals over half term

Food banks, ‘grub hubs’ and social supermarkets across the city are preparing to support disadvantaged children this half-term week.

Over the weekend, local businesses and charities in Coventry have come together to offer support to those struggling to feed their children during this week’s half-term break.

The call to action comes after a Labour Party proposal to issue vouchers during school holidays to children who receive free school meals was defeated.

The Government voted down the proposals saying that they have “substantially increased the welfare budget” to address poverty and child hunger.

Nonetheless, a campaign, championed by footballer Marcus Rashford MBE, has inspired groups in Coventry to help out by offering free packed-lunches to disadvantaged children.

An effort is being coordinated by the Coventry Food Network, consisting of food banks, ‘grub hubs’ and social supermarkets across the city.

Coventry City Council has committed to supporting the network by providing staff, transport and distribution points, and has agreed to replace all food the network uses to provide free school meals.

George Duggins, Leader of the Council, in a statement praised the efforts of organisations across the city, saying he was “not in the least bit surprised to see so many offering to step in”.

Many businesses and individuals are also making their own direct offers to struggling families as well, mainly through social media.

Cllr Duggins added, “I, like so many people, was angry with the government’s refusal to continue to provide free school meals to those young children.

“Together we will make sure that no Coventry child goes hungry in the school holidays.”

Coventry Dining Club, a local collective of independent food traders, is on track to crowdfund £10,000 to support Feeding Coventry, thanks to the generous donations of more than 400 individuals so far.

Fundraisers Mogan & Mogan, Coventry Cathedral and Taiwo Owatemi MP, a former free school meal recipient, have all personally contributed to the fundraising effort.

Another organisation, Hope Community Projects, who have been providing holiday hunger support for the last few years during school holidays, are once again delivering bags of food to families across the city this week.

Owatemi gave a personal and passionate speech last week in the House of Commons highlighting how important it is, from her own experience as a child, for disadvantaged children to receive free school meals.

Those wishing to support local organisations can donate to the crowdfund for Feeding Coventry or find out more about donating food to Coventry Food Bank.

Families needing free school meal support for children this half-term week should call 08085 834 333, Monday to Friday.