Great Yarmouth pub offers 20 packed lunches everyday during half-term so children don't go hungry

  • Watch Russell Hookey's full report for more about The Dukes Head, and reaction from businesses and communities in Ipswich and Southend.

A pub in Norfolk has decided to take action themselves after the government's decision not to extend free school meals during half term.

The Dukes Head in Great Yarmouth will be offering 20 free packed lunches a day to children in the town during half-term week to support those on lower incomes.

Andrew Livingstone, the pub's owner, says the area is in desperate need of help.

Yarmouth's got a lot of deprivation issues, people have had a really hard time due to Covid-19, a lot of seasonal work's gone locally as well so some families are needing help at the moment and we're pleased to be able to be in a position to be able to help.

Andrew Livingstone, Owner of The Dukes Head
A member of staff cutting up sandwiches for the lunchboxes Credit: ITV News Anglia

The packed lunches include:

  • 1 sandwich

  • 1 piece of fruit

  • 1 small cake or biscuit

  • 1 packed of crips

  • 1 drink

20 free school lunches will be offered every day this week Credit: ITV News Anglia

For mum of three, Sophie Speight, getting the lunches from the pub for her children has meant a lot. She says without the service she would struggle to get by.

This is really helpful knowing that there are places out there that actually help. Yeah, it means a lot to them. Knowing they are actually going to get meals for the week.

Sophie Speight
Mum-of-three Sophie receiving the free packed lunches from The Dukes Head Credit: ITV News Anglia

Andrew used to be a head teacher and says he knows that children go hungry during holiday periods.

Having been an ex-head teacher in schools I know first-hand that a lot of children during the holiday periods do go hungry. With the climate having been as it is, I felt a social responsibility to be able to help provide for those that are really really struggling during this time.

Andrew Livingstone, Owners of The Dukes Head

England footballer Marcus Rashford, who has been campaigning for free school meals to continue, even tweeted about the work the pub has been doing to help the local community.

The spirit of generosity has even rubbed off on surrounding businesses who have donated supplies to the pub to help create the packed lunches.

A local supermarket have donated very very generously, local cash and carry have donated, we've had businesses locally that wanted to donate. We've had regular customers who've dropped off sizable cash donations, other groups have contacted us to see if we can actually work out something for the longer-term strategy for Yarmouth's children.

Andrew Livingstone, Owners, The Dukes Head
Sign outside The Dukes Head Credit: ITV News Anglia

Andrew says despite the pub having reduced capacity due to Covid regulations, he still wanted to help. He also believes the government should re-think last week's vote.

Read more about free school meals using the links below: