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Sheffield Council announces half-term free school meals for all eligible children

22,000 kids in the city will receive £15 food vouchers, Council leader Julie Dore announced this morning.

Sheffield Town Hall Richard Rogerson geograph

Sheffield Town Hall.

Richard Rogerson (Geograph)

All children in Sheffield who are eligible for free school meals will receive a £15 food voucher over half term, Sheffield Council announced today.

The initiative will reach 22,000 school children in the city at a total cost of £330,000, the Council said on the day schools break up for the holiday.

The announcement follows a sustained national campaign by Manchester United player Marcus Rashford, which pressured central government into providing free school meals over the summer.

While communications from Sheffield Council did not mention Rashford, the news comes as the footballer's campaign continues to gather momentum with celebrities, councils and the general public across the country.

Similar announcements have been made by councils in Greater Manchester, Liverpool, Doncaster and Redbridge borough in London.

This week parliament voted down a proposal to fund meals over half term, leading to the resignation of one Conservative MP from her parliamentary private secretary position.

"It should not be down to individual councils creating a postcode lottery for whether children go hungry or not. However, it is clear after what happened this week that the government are willing to stand by and do nothing, as a council we are not", said Sheffield Council leader Julie Dore.

A press release said the Council would work with with schools and communities on the programme.

Before the announcement, at least four businesses in Sheffield had committed to providing free meals to school children next week, including The Handsworth Inn and The Greystones pubs, The Rhubarb Shed Cafe at Manor Lodge, and Delphine Fish & Chips in Heeley.

Rashford's petition to parliament, End child food poverty – no child should be going hungry, had almost 460,000 signatures at the time of writing.

by Sam Walby (he/him)

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