Luton's community spirit saves the day for 4,000 children who claim free school meals

Luton businesses, charities and members of the public have stepped in to feed many of the town's schoolchildren during half-term, following a contentious vote in Parliament last week.

By Stewart Carr
Monday, 26th October 2020, 6:05 pm
Updated Monday, 26th October 2020, 7:20 pm
Luton Town Football Club staff prepare meals for St Matthew's Primary School and Luton Foodbank  (Credit:  LTFC)
Luton Town Football Club staff prepare meals for St Matthew's Primary School and Luton Foodbank (Credit: LTFC)

Inspired by England footballer Marcus Rashford's campaign, last week's motion to extend free school meals during half-term was defeated by the government with a majority of 61 - at 322 votes to 261.

Since then, Luton organisations have come together to offer support this half-term for around local 4,000 children claiming free school meals.

Discover Islam on Upper George Street has teamed up with charity The Level Trust to offer cereals to any school or family who needs them over the half-term period, with much of the food donated by Tesco on Skimpot Road, Dunstable.

Discover Islam Luton stated: "Our teams have been overwhelmed as always by the support from the Luton community & commitment to the #NoChildGoesHungry campaign.

"We'll be providing cereal boxes to any school & families that need it in Luton over the holiday periods."

Elsewhere, Luton Town Football Club has team up with St Matthew's Primary School to offer school meals, while Luton Foodbank is continuing to offer its vital services over half-term - with 500 items donated by shoppers at The Mall.

Other businesses offering support to families over half-term include:

> Monstera Canteen on Cheapside

> The Fox Pub in Darley Hill

> Westway Fish and Chips

> Brewery Tap

> Curiositea Rooms, Ivinghoe

> Perfect Personalised Parties - UK

> Luton Town Ladies FC (via email to [email protected])

> Luton Town Football Club via St Matthew's School

> Chicken George on Hitchin Road

> Ahh Geek Out on High Town Road

> Hungry Horse pub

> Old Skool Pantry on Hitchin Road

> Lewsey Peri Peri

In addition, families struggling to feed their children during half-term can also email [email protected]

Luton Borough Council has been "deeply impressed but not at all surprised" by the outpouring of support for schoolchildren this half-term.

A council spokesman said: "Once again Luton’s amazing community has shown itself to be quick to show concern and care for the vulnerable at this time of economic hardship for so many.

"As a council we are joining with many others across the country asking for the government to provide the necessary funding to ensure that those families in poverty do not have to endure a difficult week over half term.

"Clearly, where there is need it is imperative that there is practical response and Luton Council has identified some funding to work with businesses and the voluntary and community sector to make sure that no children go hungry.

"We will confirm the details on how we are going to do this tomorrow. Only last week we launched our ‘Luton 2020-2040 A place to thrive’ campaign through which we as a council and our partners are working toward a shared vision across the town to reduce health inequalities and to protect our most disadvantaged residents and to enable everyone in Luton to thrive. This will be a very practical example of this commitment."