Islington’s businesses, restaurants and charities ‘step up’ as government fails to deliver free school meals during half term
Islington’s businesses and charities and even some university students - have stepped in to help hungry school children this week, after MPs voted against providing free school meals for them during the holidays.
Theatre school Perform UK is one of the generous-spirited groups, and has pledged to provide up to 100 free hot every lunch time this half term, cooked by Caribbean restaurant Cottons London in a food truck at its Brewery Road HQ.
Founder Lucy Quick, told the Gazette: “Children’s well-being is at the very heart of everything we do at Perform.
“We were inspired by Marcus Rashford’s campaign and wanted to do something to support those children most in need in our community.”
The Manchester United striker’s End Child Food Poverty campaign called for an extension to free school meals - but a motion to provide 1.4 million disadvantaged children in England with £15-a-week food vouchers during school holidays throughout the coronavirus pandemic until Easter 2021 was voted down in Parliament last week.
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Meanwhile the Quality Chop House in Farringdon Road, Clerkenwell, has put together packed lunches containing sandwiches, drinks, fruit and chocolate, which are available with “no questions asked” from its shop from 11am to 12pm.
The move received praise on Instagram where they asked followers to publicise the generous offer amongst local parent groups, with one person telling them: “Love this so much, particularly as I know how hard your industry is being hit at the moment. A shining example to everyone.”
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Takeaway shop, The Sauce, in Highbury Park, Arsenal, is also taking part because “those most in need have been let down”, and has asked that people phone 0207 683 1419 or email in orders to email@example.com before collection.
They said: “If there was ever a time we needed our government’s help to keep going, it would be now, as we face some of the most difficult times in our history.
“Our children are our future and its only right to give them the support they need.”
Deli and cafe, Fink’s Salt and Sweet, in Mountgrove Road is offering pasta or pizza with houmous, veggie sticks, fruit, banana bread cake and juice.
And children’s charity Elthorne Pride is collaborating with Mama Gees pop-up Caribbean kitchen with a free lunch available from the Elthorne Estate in Archway from noon to 6pm today and Friday.
Even uni students at London Metropolitan have stepped in to help, preparing packed lunches from their halls of residence in The Arcade, Holloway Road, and publicising via Facebook.
Their support adds to Islington Council’s pledge to provide vouchers for the families of the 8,500 pupils in the borough who are eligible for free school meals. Leader of the council, Cllr Richard Watts, said: “Islington Council will not let children go hungry; we are stepping in to plug the gap that’s been left by this failure of national action.
“This is about doing the right thing for our children and young people. We know many local families are already facing extreme hardship as a result of the pandemic, and we are determined to give them the support they need.”
Families in immediate need of financial help to pay for meals can contact the We Are Islington helpline on 020 7527 8222 (or minicom on 020 7527 1900) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.