CHILDREN who rely on free school meals will not go hungry over the holidays.
Warwickshire County Council will continue to support vulnerable residents despite a parliamentary vote against extending free school meals over the holidays.
Local MPs who voted against the campaign – which was spearheaded by footballer Marcus Rashford – include Rugby MP Mark Pawsey, Southam and Kenilworth MP Jeremy Wright and Stratford MP Nadhim Zahawi.
Mr Zahawi has since defended his vote amid growing anger from the public, saying the best way to deal with the issue was through local governments and welfare system. Talking to a Sky News reporter he said the government could learn from a £9million school club scheme, piloted over the summer, and hinted of a possible extension into the winter in which free meals could be included. Activities, he argued, were more important to some parents.
Following the vote, Warwickshire Labour Group leader Helen Adkins, with the backing of local Labour leaders, wrote to the council calling on it to ensure children would not go hungry over the holidays.
Her calls were echoed by Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western who voted for providing meals.
He said: “I voted in parliament to extend free school meals, which would have guaranteed children were, at the very least, fed during these difficult months – but the government opposed it. If the government refuses to support the most vulnerable children in our country, it is only right we act locally. Many other local authorities are rightly doing just that.”
And county council leader Izzi Seccombe has announced the local welfare scheme – which has provided more than £450,000 of support to families during the pandemic – will continue to help vulnerable residents.
The scheme has been in place for many years and will see children who rely on free school meals continue to receive support through all holidays.
Along with financial support to provide food for children, those with siblings age two or above will also be entitled to help.
Coun Seccombe said: “We do not want people in Warwickshire feeling anxious and we do not want children going hungry over school holidays. Our local welfare scheme is there to support families and children, so this is what we will do.
“Our Warwickshire communities are really important to us and we are committed to supporting them.”
The scheme helps the most vulnerable residents at times of unavoidable crisis by providing basic and essential help.
Those needing support can call 0800 4081448 or 01926 359182 to speak to the council.