County council to fund free school meals for Northamptonshire children over half term

Council leader Matt Golby.Council leader Matt Golby.
Council leader Matt Golby.
They are the latest authority to make the move

Northamptonshire County Council say they will fund free school meal vouchers over the half term break after the Government's controversial vote against it.

England and Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford led a huge campaign to provide 1.4m English children with £15-a-week food vouchers during holidays until next Easter.

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But after Labour proposed it in the House of Commons this week it was voted down by 320 Conservative MPs, including Northamptonshire's representatives.

After the vote Kettering's MP Philip Hollobone said: "School leaders have worked incredibly hard during this pandemic and it is not reasonable or sustainable to also ask them to provide food or undertake additional action when they are closed for the holidays."

But now Northamptonshire's most vulnerable children WILL receive vouchers after the county council promised to fund it.

This afternoon (Sunday) Northamptonshire County Council leader Matt Golby tweeted: "I am pleased to announce @mycountycouncil will fund free school meal vouchers for half term following a request from the NCC cabinet and working closely with our seven Northamptonshire MPs."

Details on how the scheme will work are yet to be released.

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Wellingborough MP Peter Bone, who voted against the bid to extend the free meals scheme earlier this week, said he was "delighted" the county council would be providing the vouchers "paid for by this week’s extra Government funding".

Yesterday (Saturday) Labour-run Corby Council became the first local authority in the county to step in, promising to provide free lunches in partnership with The Autumn Centre.

Leader of Corby Council, Cllr Tom Beattie, said: "After the announcement was made we have been working hard to put in place something in which youngsters that rely on these meals won’t be affected.

"With the announcement made just before half term and following a year in which families across the country have been hit hard with the economic effects of the pandemic, we felt that it was important to act fast and ensure that our children within Corby don’t go hungry during this half term.

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"We would like to thank the Autumn Centre and all of its amazing staff in helping us in providing these meals to those that really need them."

Hot and cold options will be available to children in Corby and its surrounding villages.

Families entitled to free school meals can go to the Autumn Centre in Counts Farm Road any time between 11am and 2pm from October 26 to October 30 for their youngsters to receive their lunch.

The council has also organised for a delivery service to be in place for those that can’t travel to the Autumn Centre and this can be provided by calling 01536 264671.

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Businesses across Northamptonshire have also pledged to support children and continue the free school meals scheme out of their own pockets.

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