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Article date - 23 October 2020
The announcement comes following a government decision not to fund this provision despite a well-backed campaign led by Manchester United and England footballer, Marcus Rashford, who relied on free school meals while at school.
Vouchers to the value of £15 a week per child will be provided by the council digitally or by hard copy form and joins a local rallying community call, with many local businesses vowing to offer free food and drink to eligible families.
In addition, the council has over the last month distributed a total of 1,449 isolation food parcels to pupils self-isolating as a result of coronavirus who are eligible for free school meals.
St Helens Library Service is also playing its part in supporting families facing financial hardship by accepting foodbank donations at Chester Lane, Eccleston, Newton-le-Willows, Parr and St Helens libraries.
St Helens Borough Council Leader, Councillor David Baines, said:
“Any right-thinking person finds the thought of a child going hungry completely unacceptable, and would agree that we need to do whatever we can to tackle child hunger and poverty. It should be unimaginable in this day and age.
“As a council we have done all we can to support all residents during these uncertain times, and we are determined to do what is needed to help those children and families who need a hand.”
Councillor Kate Groucutt, portfolio holder for education and business, added:
“The public and business reaction to the difficult situation faced by many families during the half-term break has been incredible. Communities like ours are renowned for looking after their own which is why #StHelensTogether was formed at the start of this global health crisis. This ethos continues to shine through with so many offers of help coming from independent businesses across the borough.”
Eligible families can call the St Helens Together hotline 01744 676767, pressing option 1 for food enquires.