More than £50,000 has been raised for a campaign to feed vulnerable children after the effort was backed by celebrities.
Actor and writer Katy Brand set up the Hungry Children Christmas Fund after her disappointment at MPs voting down a motion, inspired by Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign, to get the free school meals scheme to cover the upcoming school holidays.
Ms Brand, who has appeared in Peep Show, wrote: “The footballer Marcus Rashford MBE has been campaigning tirelessly to try to force the UK government to help feed hungry children during the school holidays.
“But on the 21st October 2020, Conservative MPs used their power to vote against preventing hunger in the poorest families.
“Whilst it is true that there should be a political solution, and children in poverty should not have to rely on charity, this must now be a long term goal. Because the problem is now urgent and upon us. In just a few weeks, schools will close and pandemic-hit families will have empty cupboards.
“Marcus Rashford will continue his good work, I have no doubt. But it shouldn’t all be on him. As he continues the pressure for a political solution, here is a chance to give whatever you can to provide something to help in the short term.
“All money raised will be sent to charities with a long and reliable track record of providing food for children in poverty, along with local food banks in hardest hit areas.
“I know the responsibility lies with politicians, but they have failed us and the children. While the adults fix the politics, please give what you can so children don’t go hungry while they wait.”
Retweeting Ms Brand’s appeal, celebrity chef Lawson wrote: “It shouldn’t have to be this way, but it is more important to feed a hungry child than argue about how it’s done. Or rather, donate if you can and then do what’s necessary to stop those who make children going hungry policy.”
It shouldn’t have to be this way, but it is more important to feed a hungry child than argue about how it’s done. Or rather, donate if you can and then do what’s necessary to stop those who make children going hungry policy https://t.co/bhkKFRkD9f
— Nigella Lawson (@Nigella_Lawson)
The Government has faced a backlash after voting against a Labour motion, prompted by a campaign by England footballer Rashford, for the free school meals scheme to be extended over school holidays until Easter 2021.
Five Conservative MPs broke ranks to support the bid with one, Caroline Ansell, resigning from a Government role in protest at her party’s position.
Scores of restaurants, cafes, and pubs have since joined councils across the country to promise to feed the children in need.
Manchester United and England footballer Rashford has been retweeting their support for the campaign.
A Number 10 spokesman, asked repeatedly if the Prime Minister welcomed the offer from businesses and some councils, said: “As we have set out before, we are in a different position now with schools back open to all and the vast majority of pupils back to school.
“I believe the PM said during PMQs that free school meals will continue during term time and that he wants to continue to support families throughout the crisis so they have cash available to feed kids if they need to.”