Free school meals row: How you can help children in need

Hayley Spencer
·3 min read

Earlier this month, the government rejected calls to extend a voucher scheme for children to receive free school meals over the half-term and winter holidays.

Currently, pressure is mounting on the Prime Minister to form a U-turn, with the children’s commissioner for England comparing the government’s actions to “something we’d expect to see in chapters of Oliver Twist”.

In the mean time, hundreds of businesses and councils have announced that they will feed hungry pupils this week, supporting a campaign started by the England footballer Marcus Rashford.

If you want to help ensure families who require free school meals receive them, here’s some organisations and schemes you can donate, volunteer and lend support to in other ways.


Rashford called for the public to donate to FareShare again last week after starting a partnership with the food redistribution charity in March, when the Coronavirus pandemic saw demand for food from people living in poverty surge.

FareShare is a national UK charity who collect surplus “fit for purpose” products from the food and drink industry and deliver it to organisations working with disadvantaged people (including breakfast and after-school clubs).

Ahead of volunteering with the charity last week, the Manchester United striker tweeted: “The food banks are in for a very tough Winter. Most are currently distributing 6 food packages per min and we are only in Oct.”

Donate to the charity here.

Feeding Britain

As part of its mission to ensure no one in Britain goes hungry, Feeding Britain has partnerships in 16 areas in the UK. Its Holiday Food and Fun Clubs are currently in operation in 11 areas to provide community for families in need and somewhere for kids to play, learn and get a healthy meal during school holidays.

It states that three million children in the UK are at the risk of going hungry during the holidays and that 19 percent of children under 15 live with someone who is food insecure.

Donate to the charity here.

Kitchen Social

In the Capital, Kitchen Social is a Mayor’s Fund for London programme and the largest provider of food for children during the school holidays.

During the pandemic it has coordinated community organisations and other food charities to ensure food and supplies get to the children and families who need it most.

The organisations provide packed lunches, hot food for collection and deliver fresh fruit and vegetable boxes to struggling families.

Donate to the charity here.

A Plate For London

Founded by Street Feast organiser Dominic Cools-Lartigue, A Plate For London aims to feed Londoners in need.

During the Easter holidays the organisation partnered with 8 food hubs to feed 12,000 people in Tower Hamlets and are now working with more councils across London to ensure families have access to the nutritious meals.

They also deliver meals to families with recipe cards so that they can replicate the meals their chefs create and provide hot meals to charities like Children with Voices.

Donate to the charity here and find out about how you can volunteer to get meals to children in need here.

The Trussell Trust

If you’re not sure how to locate your local food bank to make a donation, you can find one via The Trussell Trust who support a nationwide network in order to provide emergency support.

Recommended donations to be added to food parcels include soup, pasta, UHT milk, tinned tomatoes and fruit.

You can also find collection points for food banks at many local supermarkets including Waitrose.

Local hospitality businesses

Thousands of UK hospitality businesses have been quick to instigate free meals schemes for kids, from chains like London’s Bao to local cafes and social enterprises.

However, in order for those who need the meals to access them, they’ll need to be aware what is available and where. The best way to lend support is to spread the word around your community or use your social platforms to get posts with the details in front of those in need. Liking and sharing is a great way to raise their visibility.

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