‘MP’s aren’t missing meals’ – Mother hits out at government

Picture: Getty Images/Michael Regan/PA Wire/PA Images

Picture: Getty Images/Michael Regan/PA Wire/PA Images - Credit: Getty Images/Michael Regan/PA Wire/PA Images

A single mother of four has branded the government “disgusting” after being forced to use a food bank to feed her children during the school holidays.

People queue up at the Phoenix Centre in Norwich. Pic: supplied

People queue up at the Phoenix Centre in Norwich. Pic: supplied - Credit: Archant

Her scathing attack comes as businesses and the public alike backed the recently launched Norfolk Against Holiday Hunger (NAHH) campaign which is urging MPs to change their minds on the issue of free school meals.

NAHH aims to swell the pressure on MPs after the government refused to extend the provision for the poorest children during half term.

England and Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford had led demands for the government to once again fund holiday meals as they did during the summer.

But when a bid to push it through parliament was defeated businesses stepped up to offer free meals to the region’s most needy youngsters.

George Freeman looking relaxed before casting his vote at Litcham Jubilee Hall. Picture: Ian Burt

George Freeman looking relaxed before casting his vote at Litcham Jubilee Hall. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

The mother, who volunteers at the Phoenix Centre in Norwich and asked to be named as Sarah, said: “In the school holidays, your children eat a lot more and it’s a real worry how I am going to feed them. It’s disgusting that the government isn’t helping more, the MPs don’t look like they’ve missed many meals.”

It comes as Mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman admitted the government had misjudged the mood of the nation and called for a U-turn after initially voting against the Labour motion. Norwich South MP Clive Lewis was the only local politician to back extending meals into holidays.


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Businessman Owen Willis, on the committee for NAHH, said pressure was mounting for the government to alter its decision.

“We are no longer a fringe campaign but people are starting to crack,” he said. “We can win this.”

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Brian Green, also a member of NAHH and who coordinates food aid from the Phoenix Centre, now wants people to sign an open letter to be sent to the government.

He said the problem of children going hungry locally had got worse since he started the foodbank three and a half years ago.

“For every meal we served all those years ago, we now serve five,” he said. “Over this time, we have seen the need and desperation grow. This crisis has only been intensified by the pandemic.

“Our project benefits financially from the Covid funds made available by the government. However, we would far rather the government used its money to provide school meals during the holidays. Stop-gap measures by charities such as ours do not meet the need.”

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