The Bristol Liberal Democrats have written to Mayor Marvin Rees imploring him to explore the possibility of Bristol City Council paying for free school meals for poorer families now that the government has voted down Marcus Rashford’s campaign to stop child holiday hunger.
Local councils around the country are stepping forward to stop child holiday hunger, by funding free school meals during holidays themselves. The Bristol Lib Dems want to stop Bristol’s 10,835 school children that are eligible for free school meals from going hungry over the holidays. If the government refuses to uphold its moral obligation to feed hungry children, the Bristol Lib Dems believe the duty falls to the Council.
The following councils are already backing the #ENDCHILDPOVERTY campaign:
- Kensington & Chelsea
- Telford & Wrekin
- Greater Manchester
- Hammersmith & Fulham
- Royal Greenwich
Bristol City Council must protect it's own children from hunger and back the #ENDCHILDPOVERTY campaign.
Cllr Tim Kent, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Education and Cllr for Hengrove & Whitchurch Park wrote:
“Dear Mayor Rees,
I am sure you share my disappointment in the Government and their voting down of the reasonable proposal that children entitled to free school meals should continue to receive a free school meal over the holidays during the pandemic. We are all aware of the issue of child poverty, including food poverty, and although food poverty amongst children is unfortunately not new the pandemic has made the crisis much worse.
It is an absolute travesty for children to go hungry, on any day of the year. The absence of any support equivalent to free school meals in the holidays is a long overlooked anomaly, and now families face the threat of future lockdowns too. The government spent £100M’s on the Eat Out to Help Out scheme in August - which many people took advantage of. But the far lower cost of feeding our most vulnerable has been shirked.
I know some local councils are considering stepping in. We have over 10,000 children who receive free school meals in our city - we should not let them be punished by a Government more interested in political fights rather than doing the right thing.
I note that this policy of expanding free school meals over the holidays is supported by the Child Food Poverty Task Force, supported by Marcus Rashford and many leading food suppliers and producers.
Can I ask you to urgently consider stepping in and pledging that Bristol City Council will provide these free meals (or vouchers) over the holidays if the Government will not?
I hope you will consider this matter urgently and demonstrate to the Government what compassionate leadership looks like.
All the best
Lib Dem Education Spokesperson”