CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Camden Council offers half-term meal vouchers to 13,000 children

Council says it wholeheartedly supports Marcus Rashford's campaign

23 October, 2020 — By Richard Osley

Georgia Gould, Camden’s council leader, said children must have a “life free of hunger”

CAMDEN Council this evening (Friday) has announced plans to help feed children over next week’s half-term break by sending out food vouchers.

The Town Hall said it wanted to place on record its “wholehearted support for footballer Marcus Rashford’s End Child Food Poverty Campaign” as details of the offer were revealed.

A series of local authorities across the country have said they will now fund the service after a parliamentary vote earlier in the week saw MPs vote against extending free school meals during the holiday. Free school meals were continued while schools were shut during the summer months after Mr Rashford’s high profile campaign helped reveal the extent of food poverty.

In Camden, foodbanks and volunteer-run aid programmes have seen increasing demand for help amid the coronavirus crisis.

Vouchers for supermarkets will now be made available to all Camden families with children up to the age of 18 and in receipt of benefits. In total, the council estimates  6,800 families, or 13,000 children, could be in line for support.

Council leader Georgia Gould said: “We are committed as a council and as a community to giving every child in Camden the best start in life – and that means a life free of hunger and worry about getting enough food to learn and grow. In a borough with as much wealth as Camden, we must step up to our shared responsibility to care for every child who grows up here – particularly the most vulnerable.

“Child hunger won’t be solved by food vouchers, and Government must take action with Councils to address the root causes – poverty and entrenched inequality. Whilst we wait for Government, we will step in to ensure that all children at risk can get food whilst schools are closed for the half-term break.

A family with one child will receive a £15 voucher. Those with two or three children will receive a £35 voucher, and a family with four+ children will receive £50.

Camden’s education chief Councillor Angela Mason said: “Nearly a third of pupils in Camden are entitled to free school meals, which is why we must do everything possible to support them, especially during these challenging times.

She added: “The Government have shirked this responsibility and, with the pandemic putting more financial pressure on many of our families, this is absolutely the right thing to do to ensure no one is left behind. No child will go hungry in Camden this half term, and we will make sure every child who needs our support will get it.”

Families will receive two emails. The first email should arrive today (Friday) and will ask families to look out for an email from Camden’s ‘Family Fund’ containing the voucher, arriving next week.

Those without email addresses will have vouchers sent out by post.

The New Journal has asked the council how the scheme will be financed and will publish the answer when it has been received.

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