Businesses across region rally round to supply kids meals during school holidays

Hundreds of businesses across the region have pledged to provide meals for school children, who rely on free school meals, during the half-term break.

Pubs, restaurants, cafes and other businesses have rallied round and taken to social media to let those in need know there are packed lunches and hot meals available. Many have stressed their support will be confidential and most are fundraising to be able to provide as many as possible.

Schools have also made preparations.

Staff at St Leonard's Primary in Sunderland have made up bags of food from community donations, to support their pupils.

It comes after a Labour motion for the free school meals scheme to be extended over school holidays until Easter 2021 was defeated in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford has said people needed to put aside politics and realise "a significant number of children are going to bed tonight not only hungry but feeling like they do not matter."

The 22-year-old has since taken to Twitter and shared details of North East businesses who have announced they will be providing free meals for school children during the October half-term break.

The Manchester United footballer has spoken openly about he and his family relied upon schemes like free school meals as children.

Marcus Rashford is a regular volunteer at a food bank in Greater Manchester Credit: John Clifton/Sportimage/PA Images

Other businesses across the ITV Tyne Tees region providing free meals include:

Councils including Durham, Newcastle and North Tyneside have also pledged to provide meals for children during half-term.

Meanwhile, a school in Cambois in Northumberland is offering £15 each to the families of pupils who receive free meals to feed their children over half-term.

Elsewhere and Middlesbrough striker Ashley Fletcher is leading appeals for local businesses to support an MFC Foundation campaign to help feed vulnerable school children in the region.

The Boro striker is following in the footsteps of his former Manchester United team-mate Marcus Rashford in urging people to show support in the battle against child poverty.

MFC Foundation will be providing further 1,000 food parcels for distribution, and Fletcher is hoping local businesses will come together to provide support for the campaign.

The Foundation has already supplied 25,000 food parcels since March and this is a continuation of the work being done with the local community.

Middlesbrough striker Ashley Fletcher Credit: MI News/NurPhoto/PA Images

 “The MFC Foundation have been delivering food parcels throughout the pandemic and have done an amazing job,” said Fletcher.

 “What we need now is more support. Marcus has really led the way with this on a national basis, and as a football club we are determined to play our part on a local level by offering support where we can across Teesside.

 “There’s families who need help on our own doorstep, and we’re asking people to come forward and support the Foundation in tackling child poverty in our region.

 “There is no overnight solution, but we have to do what we can and act now.”