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NTU Sustainability in Enterprise

More Nottingham Eateries Join Marcus Rashford Campaign

23 October 20

More Nottingham eateries will be providing free meals for children in a nationwide show of support for Rashford's campaign to end child food poverty

It might seem like a lifetime ago, but cast your mind back to early April when the country was still coming to terms with what coronavirus was. Venues were closing down, people were being furloughed all across the country and Matt Hancock, Secretary for Health and Social Care, commented "given the sacrifices many people are making, the first thing Premier League footballers can do is make a contribution." His comments received widespread criticism at the time, with many asking why he'd singled out one profession over the many that are highly paid. 

Fast-forward nearly seven months, and Hancock and his Government are reeling from crisis after crisis with their disastrous handling of COVID, and it's Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford that has taken up the mantle of feeding the most vulnerable members of society: children from low-income families. 

Firstly, his activism caused the Government to perform a U-turn on its decision to not extend free school meal vouchers throughout the summer holidays in June, as many families continued to contend with the devastating financial impact COVID has caused. "I just don't know what to say," Rashford tweeted at the time, "Just look at what we can do when we come together, THIS is England in 2020." 

Despite being awarded an MBE for his efforts, the 22-year-old didn't rest on his laurels, and continues to show that the groundswell he created earlier in the year was not a one-off. In fact, it feels like he's at the head of a movement that continues to gather momentum. The recent controversy over the Premier League charging £14.95 for pay-per-view games has seen a huge rise in donations to food banks, with supporters turning their back on the perceived greed to instead support charitable causes. Newcastle United fans alone raised over £20,000 for food banks in protest against the PPV announcement. 

And today, dozens of restaurants and cafes across the country have shown their support for Rashford after Labour's plea for free school meals to be extended over the holidays was voted down in Parliament on Wednesday. Despite being in one of the sectors most affected by the impact of COVID, hospitality venues are offering to do what the Government failed to, and provide free meals for children. 

Last night, Rashford tweeted that he was "Blown away by news of local businesses stepping up to fill the voucher scheme deficit during the October half term. Selflessness, kindness, togetherness, this is the England I know,” he said. “Add #ENDCHILDFOODPOVERTY to your tweets so I can track them. I will share as many as I can.”

So far, several Nottingham establishments have taken up the mantle by offering to provide free meals for children. On their Facebook page, The Pudding Pantry said, "We are appalled and saddened at our government to hear that the free school meal scheme will not be extended through the holidays and there will be children across the uk and in our local areas going hungry. We’d like to offer a little support to those who might be struggling to feed their families during the October break next week - just pop in and ask one of our lovely team or show us this post and we will provide your child(ren) with a sandwich & treat."

They were joined by Farm Fresh, who said that they were "Proud to be part of our local community and even prouder to be able to support it in times of hardship. Following the governments decision yesterday, we believe that no child should ever go hungry. We will be offering free lunches for children who need it over half term (Mon to Fri). A cob or standard/vegan sausage roll and a carton of apple or orange juice. Just pop in and mention this post from the amazing Marcus Rashford and we will sort your lunch for you."

Nottingham Street Food Club also joined the campaign, saying "We have been left outraged and saddened by our government. We would like to offer our support to anyone who may be struggling to feed their children this half term. Similarly, Oceans of Fun soft playcentre in Hucknall offered to provide "a hot or cold meal" to "any parents out there worried about feeding their children over half term," adding "We haven't got much money, but we are not prepared to stand back and worry about children not getting a meal over half term. What a world we live in where we can't even feed our children."

The Bakery in Sneinton was next to support the campaign, writing "We stand by Marcus Rashford's campaign to provide free school meals to children during school holidays. In support, The Bakery will be offering 100 free lunches a day to any child under 16 on free school meals this half term... If there are any parents or guardians with children who are going to struggle over the next week, please don't hesitate or be embarrassed to ask - we are here to help."

Notts' vegan fast-food legends Mocky-D announced that, for the next two weeks, under-15s will receive a free hot dog or cheeseburger, adding "All You Need is Love" and "Outlaws Forever" to the post. Fellow fast-food aficionados Cluck Cluck Bang also posted "The best school dinners your kids have ever had. Don't struggle this half term, we've got you" alongside a free 'Little Cluckers' menu. 

In Kimberley, Town Councillor Stewart Bain posted: "It has been difficult to put something together at such short notice, but I am delighted to be able to say that in conjunction with The Kimberley and District Mutual Aid Group and Broxtowe Community Projects, we are going to be able to offer a chilled, reheatable meal, to any child who goes to school in Kimberley, Awsworth, Watnall and Nuthall who's parent or guardian is struggling to feed them."

The University of Nottingham's Men's Football Club also tweeted their participation, saying "We understand the difficult times we are living in and firmly believe that no child should ever have to go hungry." The were joined by Phoenix Inham FC Community Kitchen in Chilwell, who tweeted out a weekly menu of hot and cold meals, and also asked that anyone who is able to donate food or funds to the campaign would be much appreciated. 

We've created a map with all of the Nottinghamshire venues and organisations currently offering free meals for children during the school holidays. If you are a Nottingham business who would like to join the campaign to end child food poverty, contact us at [email protected] to be added to this list

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