Council Leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson committed today to support hungry children failed by the government’s decision not to fund school meals through the half-term school holidays.
Portsmouth City Council is extremely disappointed that the Government has decided not to fund the poorest families in the city with food for their children over the half term and future holidays. We support Marcus Rashford in his campaign for all families with children who receive free school meals (because their families are on very low incomes) to receive food vouchers when children are away from school for holidays etc. It was our hope that the Government would continue to the funding of this that had been provided for the summer holidays.
The City Council does not want any child to go hungry. Our hope that the Government would act has been dashed and half-term starts today. Logistically we just can’t find a way to get money to parents today for this half term but the City Council is making a commitment today to step in where the Government has failed and we will provide families of children with food tokens to cover the Christmas period. This will cost around £211,400 and will cover over 7,000 children.
The City Council has also provided additional funding for Foodbanks in the city and has let schools know how families can access this.
Cllr Suzy Horton, Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said, “I’m really disappointed that the Government has decided not to fund meals for the poorest children over the holidays. In this terrible situation of Covid pandemic, the City Council will step in to make sure no child in Portsmouth goes hungry at Christmas. The Government should be ashamed of themselves. We are working with local businesses and charities to make sure there is support for this half term and we hope to have a voucher scheme in place by the Christmas holidays if the government still lets down the city!”