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Suffolk restaurants get behind initiative to #endchildfoodpoverty after government voted against providing food to children who get free school meals





Cafés and restaurants across Suffolk have joined a national campaign to ensure no child goes hungry this half term.

Earlier this week, the Conservative government voted against providing food during school holidays to those who are eligible for free school meals.

But, despite the hospitality sector still among the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, business owners across the county have introduced special offers for the children of struggling families.

The Lowestoft Tandoori has offered to help children who are at risk of going hungry
The Lowestoft Tandoori has offered to help children who are at risk of going hungry

Nasima Begum, who has owned the Lowestoft Tandoori with her husband for eight years, yesterday asked parents who are worried about feeding their children to get in touch - a post which was shared by Manchester United ace Marcus Rashford, who led the campaign for free school meals.

"It's insane that this is happening in this day and age and in this country," said Nasima, who is mother to two girls, aged four and six.

"I can't imagine being a mother and not being able to feed my children. I just can't believe they've voted against this, it's disgusting."

Within hours, Nasima was approached by parents of six children, to whom she will deliver an evening meal everyday next week while children are off school.

"We have been blown away by the response to the post which has been seen by more than 40,000 people," she said.

"We have had families message us about free meals but we've also had people get in touch who want to donate money towards the scheme which is just amazing and takes the pressure off a bit."

Anyone who wants to talk about free meals or who wants to donate can message Nasima on Facebook .

Allison's Eatery is offering free lunches to children in need this half term. Picture by Mark Westley.
Allison's Eatery is offering free lunches to children in need this half term. Picture by Mark Westley.

Allison Knight, owner of Allison's Eatery in Bury St Edmunds , is also offering free lunches to children who are at risk of going hungry.

Parents who are concerned about their children are asked to phone, message or pop in to the café, in the St Olaves precinct, to get the deal.

"It's really, really good to see people's offers of help to those who are struggling. It takes us back a few months to when everyone pulled together during lockdown," she said.

Marcus Rashford. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Images (42842536)
Marcus Rashford. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Images (42842536)

"It will all have to be on a trust basis as we have no way of knowing people's individual situations but if we can help just one person in need then it is all worth it."

The Old Cannon Brewery in the town is also offering free hot lunches from Monday to Friday next week for families affected.

To claim a free meal, families can email or call the restaurant on the morning of the days they would like a meal, with collection times between 12 and 1pm.

A post on its Facebook page said: "After seeing what other local businesses have done we want to lend a hand and help out others in need of support this half term."

The Old Cannon Brewery has also joined the campaign to end child poverty
The Old Cannon Brewery has also joined the campaign to end child poverty

Valley Way Fish and Chips in Newmarket has also got behind the initiative, which has seen thousands of businesses across the country come out to feed hungry children.

From Tuesday to Friday next week, all school children will be able to pick up a free lunch between 11.45am and 1.45pm.

On social media, staff said: "We understand times are hard and would like to do our bit to help out as we’re all in this together."

Staff at Burgers, Wings & Ribs, based at The Duke pub in Ipswich , also reached out to families facing hardship.

From Tuesday to Friday next week, any child between the ages of four and 16 who visit before 5pm will receive a free kids' box.

Are you a business offering help to families in need or are your children affected by the government's decision? Email me on rhoda.morrison@iliffepublishing.co.uk

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