Bury St Edmunds pub Oakes Barn offers free school takeout meals for children over half term
A Bury St Edmunds pub is offering free school takeout meals for children at risk of going hungry over the half term.
Oakes Barn, in St Andrew's Street South, is putting together hot and cold meals for youngsters in need.
It has joined hospitality businesses across Suffolk which have introduced special offers for children of struggling families in a national outpouring of support after the government last week voted against providing food during school holidays to those who are eligible for free school meals.
It follows a campaign by Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford to fund the provision of school meals during the half-term and Christmas breaks.
Ben Kelly, assistant manager at Oakes Barn, said: "We just wanted to try to help as much as we can. We need to stand as one as a community."
The hot meals include a choice of chicken nuggets, sausages or fish fingers with chips and a drink, while the cold meal consists of a ham, cheese or chicken roll, with crisps, cake and a drink.
The pub has received food donations from the community and Waitrose provided chicken nuggets and sausages as part of the company's community matters scheme.
Mr Kelly said: "Yesterday I had 13 meals go out on the first day. We've had really positive feedback and people have really liked them.
"The support from the community around us has been incredible. We had lots of people dropping off crisps and snacks to help."
The initiative runs until Friday from noon to 2pm. Call Oakes Barn on 01284 761592.
Anyone who would like to be considered for the Waitrose community matters scheme in Bury St Edmunds should email Jane Gunsman via email@example.com
Meanwhile, Frankie Farrelly, eight, of Bury St Edmunds, is collecting food to support children in need after being inspired by Marcus Rashford.
Town Cllr Katie Parker has also produced top-up weekly lunch kits to distribute across the Marham Park, Howard and Mildenhall estates.
West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock and Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill have defended the government over its refusal to extend free school meals for children over the holidays.
Mrs Churchill said: "I understand the concerns of constituents regarding my vote, but it is important to note that this opposition amendment was made purely for the half term holiday week with no plan for delivery within such a short time scale."