Chesterfield council issues update on child food poverty action amid free school meals row

Chesterfield Borough Council has said ‘volunteers are working tirelessly to ensure that people in our communities do not go without food’ amid child food poverty campaigning.

Friday, 30th October 2020, 1:55 pm

Following Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign to extend free school meals over October half term, businesses, individuals and councils, including Chesterfield FC Community Trust, have stepped in to show their support for children in need and are serving up hundreds of free meals every day.

Rashford even publicly thanked the Trust after Beth Fretwell, from Barlow, tweeted to say her "happy boys” would be “going to bed with a full belly” after they received a food parcel from Chesterfield FC’s Community Trust.

The England forward’s campaign even made it into government – with a Labour motion to extend free school meals until 20210 being rejected by 322 votes to 261.

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Manchester United star Marcus Rashford has launched a new online petition against child food poverty. Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Some local authorities across the country have stepped in during this period of uncertainty due to the pandemic to extend the free school meals over schools October half term, despite the Commons vote.

Now, Chesterfield Borough Council, although it is not a body directly responsible for free school meals, have said that they are 'working closely’ with food projects to help the child food poverty problem.

A council spokesperson said: “The Government has made its position clear on this issue. We ourselves are not an authority responsible for the provision of school meals but we do of course care deeply about our children in Chesterfield.

“We support and work closely with several food projects that have either emerged as a result of Covid-19 or that have been running for some years, including Gussie’s Kitchen, Derbyshire Community Hub and Chesterfield Community Food Hut.

“Volunteers are working tirelessly to ensure that people in our communities do not go without food and this includes supporting families and children through the school holidays.”

Derbyshire County Council has announced what it is doing to support those in need, including investing over £800,000 to support those affected by coronavirus, and support for ‘hunger clubs’ in the area.

As well as this, the county council has stated its support for foodbanks in the area and free school meals – providing over 6,000 food boxes over the Easter holidays.