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Government vote against extending free school meals during school holidays

I am angered that the Government this week voted down Labour’s Opposition Motion to extend free school meals to 1.4 million hungry children, during the school holidays until Easter 2021, in response to Manchester United footballer, Marcus Rashfords campaign.

This is in complete contrast to Scotland and Wales who have both provided the funding to extend free school meals to cover all school holidays up to and including Easter 2021.

We are in unprecedented times, where more and more families are entering poverty, through job losses, reduced hours or being self employed and only eligible for 20% of your profits in the Job Retention Scheme. So far during the period of Coronavirus, there has been an estimated 900,000 extra children become eligible for free school meals. In Leeds alone 1 in 5 children live in poverty.

Labour’s opposition motion forced the Government previously to extend free school meals during lockdown and over the summer holidays — this after another campaign by Mr Rashford. The Prime Minister said at the time he welcomed Mr Rashford’s “contribution to the debate around poverty”. So, what’s changed Prime Minister?

The science already points to a link between the reduction of child obesity and the providing of free school meals. We need to ensure that all children have access to a healthy meal and if children are being provided this during term time in these extraordinary times of hardship for many families, this must be extended to cover school holidays in the short term till Easter 2021.

It is scandalous to think that a nation as rich as ours even has hungry children, so for a government to deny these children food is nothing short of shameful.

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