Following the Government’s refusal to provide funds for free school meals during school holidays, Kirklees Council has confirmed it will.

This decision means more than 14,000 children in Kirklees will not have to go hungry during holidays.

The ‘Free School Meal’ vouchers was supposed to be ready for the start of half-term, but it has been possible, the money usually received through the scheme will be paid to eligible families retrospectively.

There is also immediate food support and help available for families who need it during the upcoming half-term.

They can contact the free-phone support line by calling 08004561114.

Free School Meals will then be in place for the Christmas school holidays and will be available for children who normally receive them during school time.

Councillor Shabir Pandor, Leader of Kirklees Council, said, “At this time of national crisis, I would have hoped that the Government would have stepped up to support those who are struggling the most, but they didn’t.

Clr Shabir Pandor, Leader of Kirklees Council

“Kirklees Council will step up and it’s also great to see so many businesses and voluntary organisations doing their bit to support our children. This is testament to our togetherness and our joint commitment to make sure no child goes hungry.”

Pandor said, “I am in no doubt that this is the right thing to do, with the poorest families struggling the most in the backdrop of this pandemic. Over the last few months, we have seen COVID-19 have a disproportionate impact on those struggling on low incomes.

“This crisis has highlighted the magnitude of the problem for families who are struggling to make ends meet.”

Councillor Carole Pattison, Cabinet Member for Learning, Aspiration and Communities at Kirklees Council, said, “This means more than 14,000 children will not go hungry in Kirklees. It’s one of the easiest decisions we have had to make. We’re committed to giving children the best start in life and nutrition is vital to this.

“I’m deeply disappointed in the Government for failing to provide meals to hungry children during the holidays.

“Hunger does not end when schools break up. We will not sit by as children go hungry in Kirklees.

“We will never forget or ignore the struggles people are going through right now and if the Government won’t provide the funds to feed hungry children during holidays, we will.

“I’d like to thank Marcus Rashford for the outstanding work he’s doing in being a voice for those that desperately need support.”