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Photo: Education Futures Trust.

HBC funds charity to supply half-term food hampers

During the half-term week HBC has provided funding to Education Futures Trust to provide food hampers to children entitled to free school meals. Several Labour councillors have criticised the local MP and ESCC leader for “failing to guarantee” holiday meals for children in their wards. Nick Terdre reports.

With funding from Hastings Borough Council, Education Futures Trust is providing emergency food hampers during the half-term week to the families of children who are entitled to receive free school meals.

Further financial support has come from the newly formed Hastings Food Action, EFT chief executive Carole Dixon told HOT. The Darwell community in Robertsbridge also provides the charity with regular supplies of home-produced food.

The half-term initiative was prompted by footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign for vulnerable children to receive free school meals during the school holidays.. A Labour Party motion in the Commons calling on the Government to continue providing free school meals during the holidays was defeated last week, with local MP Sally-Ann Hart voting against it.

“We are very concerned that some of the most vulnerable children in our community are going hungry during half term because they aren’t able to get free school meals,” said deputy council leader Cllr Colin Fitzgerald.

“We are very grateful to local businesses who have already offered food, we know this is really appreciated.

“We have teamed up with the Education Futures Trust to help as well. If you know of any children who are entitled to free school meals who are in danger of going hungry this week, please call Heather at the EFT on Hastings (01424) 722241.

“We live in really challenging times at the moment, and it is great that, once again, the local community is rallying around to support those most in need.”

Food hamper programme

EFT already has a programme of food hamper deliveries to local families in need – since lockdown started, it has delivered more than 1,500. By mid week it had also distributed some 40 hampers as part of the half-term initiative.

“We try to get a balanced box,” said Dixon. “Not just tinned food but also fresh fruit and veg. The size of the boxes varies according to the size of the family.

“This is quite a time of hardship. We really appreciate the support we are getting right across the borough. People are going the extra mile.”

Families wishing to receive a food hamper should call the EFT office at the above number. The hampers have to be collected from the charity’s office (The Firs, Elphinstone Rd, Hastings TN34 2AX) as drivers are not available to deliver them over the half term period.

Morrisons is also providing assistance to children in food need this half-term. Each weekday 498 of its stores, including the one in central Hastings, are preparing 30 lunchboxes for delivery to local food banks and schools.

Customers can also donate by paying for Pick Up Packs costing from £1 to £5 which are similarly distributed to young people in food need.

Donations to EFT’s food hamper campaign can be made here.

Labour councillors criticise Hart and Glazier

Six Labour councillors representing “some of the wards with the highest densities of child poverty in the UK,” have put their name to an open letter criticising local MP Sally-Ann Hart and East Sussex County Council leader Keith Glazier for not supporting free school meals this half term.

To the MP they say: “Not content to fail us once, Ms Hart, you have failed the children of our town thrice: first failing to lobby your government to support Marcus Rashford, second by voting against the Labour motion on the 21st October and finally by seeking to defend your position with words as parsimonious as your actions.”

And to the ESCC leader: “Cllr Glazier, you have directly abandoned our most vulnerable children to be hungry and thus attended upon by the emissaries of future illness and stunted life chances. You had the power, with a phone call, as the leader of ESCC, to extend free school meals during the school holidays.

“How are either of you ‘levelling-up’ for the most vulnerable if they are denied the basic necessity of food security?”

The letter is signed by Cllrs Warren Davies and Mike Turner (both Baird ward), Ruby Cox and Trevor Webb (Central St Leonards) and Paul Barnett and Maya Evans (Hollington).

This article was amended by Nick Terdre on 30 October 2020.

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Posted 19:30 Wednesday, Oct 28, 2020 In: Charities

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