Kind-hearted people in Derby and Derbyshire have been giving out free meals and food boxes to needy schoolchildren to feed them during half term.
News of this comes after MPs voted not to extend free school meals over the half-term break.
Premier League footballer Marcus Rashford has empowering businesses across the country over social media to join together to provide food for children who need it most
Since then, thousands of businesses and generous people have stepped forward in a bid to help out across the county and the country to answer the England and Manchester United star’s call.
Derby city councillor Ajit Singh Atwal is hoping to give away up to 2,000 meals throughout the week from Nomanton Service Station at Atwal Car and Van Hire.
The Liberal Democrat said: “This isn’t just an Abbey or Stockbrook issues, this is city-wide and it is all about giving something back to the children.
“I feel the government have let people down. When I was a kid, they would always do the right thing and I find it absolutely gut-wrenching that this is happening.
“We should have to have conversations like this in this day and age and we want to help as many people as we can.”
Mr Atwal said his team has numerous different meals including tomato and vegetable pasta, egg mayo and cress, cheese and cucumber sandwiches, crisps as well as juice cartons and even Curly Wurlys.
He said: “It has been going really well so far, we have already given away about 200 meals, helping more than 100 families and I have got people on standby to help out all week, by the end of the week I reckon we will have given away about 2,000 meals.
“We want as many people as possible who need the food to come down. I know there might be some people who might feel embarrassed, but they shouldn’t feel that way – this government should feel embarrassed.
“These children are the future of this country. I am a father-of-three and I wanted to do something to help.”
Cllr Atwal said the meals will be available at the site between 12.30pm and up to 2pm every day.
The Bubble Inn, in Stenson is also doing its bit to help schoolchildren.
In a statement from Connie Eleftheriou on its Facebook page, it reads: “Good morning all. Today we go to work feeding the hungry boys and girls the dinners they deserve.
“67 meals to go out today, 17 over our budget, but we don’t care. Everyday I will be thanking a company for their kind donation to the cause.
“Today a massive thanks to Zanfish fish and chip group for the donation of their van for delivering these meals to families with no transport and packaging for these meals.”
Oceanfresh chip shop, in Mickleover, is offering free sausage and chips or fish cake and chips to any child who needs it all week between 1pm-3pm.
Derbyshire Primary School teacher Amy Greenway, of Sinfin, has been creating food packs for families and their children.
She said: “Being a teacher I know the difficulties parents go through and throughout my teaching career in some cases the free school meal some children get is their only meal of the day.
“It is heart-breaking to think that there are children out there, who may not know where their next meal is coming from, this is why I put a post on Facebook urging people to ask for help if they needed it and it has escalated.”
So far the 35-year-old, and an anonymous “angel” helper, have worked together to buy food in bulk from Costco to create packs of food containing fruit, a sandwich, chocolate bar, crisps, a drink and a little activity pack with crayons.
She said: “People have been coming in with a range of reasons why they need the food packages from not getting Universal Credit, to family members being ill or people losing their jobs.
“I don’t want to know their reason, I’m not doing it for that. I am not here to judge. If people need help I want to help them. I am a single mum, but I am lucky that I can feed my children breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are loads out there that can’t.
“I was disappointed that the Government voted against the free school meals, especially when they had the £15 meal vouchers earlier this year during the pandemic.
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“I just want to get the message out there to as many people as possible that there are so many people offering their help to support families across the city.
“It won’t just stop here either. If there is a need at Christmas, we will do it all again and keep helping as many people as possible.”
Elsewhere, Ripley Town Football club are serving hotdogs, drink and a Halloween chocolate lolly to all the children in the community at Greenwich Park Nottingham Road, from 1pm untill 2pm every day this week.
Liniar and Avantek Machinery is joining forces with the Bull’s Head at Denby to help support families who may find it difficult to provide meals for their children this week.
From today, a packed lunch including a sandwich, crisps, fruit and a drink of juice will be available free of charge to any family who is usually in receipt of a free school meal or cannot provide a lunchtime meal for their children – no questions asked.
Up to 500 packed lunches will be available for collection from The Bull’s Head in Denby between 1pm and 4pm each weekday this week only, to any family living within the Amber Valley district.
You can order a packed lunch by calling 01773 513000, texting 07980 856862 or sending a message via the Bull’s Head Facebook page to confirm how many lunches you require and what time you would like to collect.
A spokesperson for Liniar said: “It’s at times like these that communities need to pull together, and we’re pleased to do our bit to help.”
The Mayor of Matlock, Councillor David Hughes, with the support of Matlock Town Council, has decided to use his Mayoral fund this year to help families in Matlock who are entitled to free school meals.
He has arranged for 200 food parcels, which make a week’s worth of lunches for each child, to be available to eligible children throughout half term. It is hoped that this effort by the Council will go some way to alleviating food poverty in the town over the holiday.
The distribution of food is being carried out in conjunction with Matlock’s primary and secondary schools to ensure that all qualifying families can be reached in a swift and secure manner.
Cllr Hughes said: “We have been inspired by the efforts of Marcus Rashford, community groups, and councils in other towns, and we are keen to do what we can to help.
“This is the first time we have tried something like this, so we hope receiving families will forgive any teething problems.”
The White Heart pub in Stanley are doing food parcels and packed lunches as are Mad Hatters Tearoom in Findern.
Do you know of a business or an individual who is helping give out free school meals? If so email firstname.lastname@example.org