More than 4,000 packed lunched have been delivered across Newcastle during half term.
On Wednesday October 21, the Government defeated a motion in the House of Commons to fund Free School Meal provision during school holidays until Easter 2021.
Restaurants, cafes, sports clubs and a host of voluntary and community sector organisations throughout the city offered to provide free meals as soon as the Government’s decision was announced.
Newcastle City Council also pledged it would make food available to any child who normally receives Free School Meals if they were still in need of support.
A ‘Toon Army’ of volunteers, residents who stepped up to help their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, and other organisations, including the Newcastle United Foundation and other voluntary and community sector groups, have been delivering lunches across the city all week as a result.
Other acts of kindness and generosity have also flooded in. In one instance, Denton Taxis provided nine drivers free of charge when the team preparing lunches at Newcastle Civic Centre ran out of volunteers to deliver packages on Monday October 26.
“A huge thank you to the City Council, businesses, community organisations and volunteers who have stepped in this week to help feed thousands of children who normally receive Free School Meals.
“This shouldn’t have been necessary and is a damning indictment of this government and the rise in child poverty on its watch.
“But where the Government failed, Geordies have excelled and helped ensure children in our City have not gone hungry this week.”
Cllr Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council, said:
“The community spirit in our city never ceases to amaze me.
“We were faced with a potential disaster due to the Government’s disgraceful decision to leave thousands of vulnerable families struggling to fend for themselves. But from all corners of Newcastle and from a variety of communities, our residents have truly stepped up to the mark to make sure no child has to go hungry this half-term.
“At the Civic Centre we’ve been flooded with volunteers working tirelessly to get food to children in need, all while coping with the additional demands and constraints of a global pandemic.
“It has been a remarkable response from the city, and a fantastic reminder of why we’re all proud to call Newcastle our home.
“We’ll continue to reach these families, but I would like to thank every business, organisation and volunteer who has got involved and played their part in making a real difference in our communities.”
Steve Mack, Operations Manager, Newcastle United Foundation, said:
“The Council identified an area they needed support with and we were delighted to be able to help.”
“It was great for Newcastle United Football Club, Newcastle United Foundation and Newcastle City Council to work together and make an impact on our community.
“The Foundation want to lead by example and make a difference and it’s important we demonstrate to the community that we’re there for them in times of need.”