UK hospitality businesses across the country are offering free meals for children living in poverty as half term starts today
Following a vote in Parliament last week that saw Conservative MPs prevent aid being provided to vulnerable families during the holidays, business owners have been galvanised into action.
The Handsworth Inn in Sheffield announced its intentions to provide kids’ meals on Facebook last week, and had such a strong response from the local community that they decided to increase the offering, giving food parcels for whole families.
‘We have been so overwhelmed and humbled by the amazing support we have received from our community and beyond, and I am delighted that we can turn this awareness into real help for the people who need it the most,’ said operator Amanda Barstow.
‘We’ll be prioritising those who are eligible for free school meals, but we want to help anyone and everyone who needs it, so we want to encourage people to get in touch and let us know if they need support. No one, especially children, should ever go hungry.’
The parcels will be given out from the pub car park this Monday (26 October), Wednesday (28) and Friday (30).
We feel the hardship that people are enduring at the moment in various ways. We wanted to do something to help with our capacity
The Butterfly & The Grasshopper in Liverpool will be providing packages of sandwiches, crisps, apples and a Fruit Shoot. This comes as an extension of the venue's existing school holiday offering.
'We were mortified by the decision by the government to vote against free school meals,' says general manager Christopher Hakeem. 'Kids eat free with an adult’s meal is something we run in every school holidays, but we wanted to go that step further. No stigma, judgement or embarrassment. We just want to help those that need it.'
Pho, the Vietnamese street food chain, announced that it is donating 6,000 meals a day from its restaurants (50 meals per participating restaurant).
‘These will be available at the front of our restaurants for people who need them,’ a company statement said. ‘A member of staff from each of our restaurants will be on hand to help give these out discreetly and safely. It goes without saying that we are giving these meals out in good faith, and we ask that only people who need them come to claim them, no questions asked.’
Meanwhile, The Gallimaufry in Bristol is offering 100 meals a day, which are being delivered across the city thanks to a team of volunteer drivers.
‘During lockdown we were closed for four months, and in that time we were involved in an organisation called the Bristol Food Union, cooking for NHS staff and other community projects that were feeling the strain. So we have a system in place where we can cook from our kitchen, and get food out,’ explains James Koch, co-owner of The Gallimaufry.
Koch explained that donations from a number of the bar’s suppliers, such as DeGusta and Cawston Press, were making these meals possible.
‘We feel the hardship that people are enduring at the moment in various ways. We wanted to do something to help with our capacity,’ said Koch. ‘We know we can do it, we’ve done it before and we’re going to do it again this week. I think it’s important that we support each other as much as we can over the next few months and years, because it’s going to be tough.’
Publicising your offering
Is your business providing free meals for children during the holidays? Using your social media channels to shout about what you’re doing is a great start in announcing what you’re doing. However, be sure to look into spreading your message further through these two channels…
- Firstly, an online map showing where free food and vouchers are available has been launched. The map shows the location of businesses and councils that are involved, with names, addresses and details of what is on offer. Called kidsmealsmap.co.uk, there’s a call out for businesses to input the details of what they’re doing on the site.
- Secondly, footballer Marcus Rashford, who has spearheaded the campaign for children’s meals to be provided during the holidays, is also retweeting announcements of anyone offering help to the cause. If your business is getting involved, be sure to tag his handle, @marcusrashford, in any announcement your business makes.