Huge wave of public support for Horsham cafe’s free meal offer to vulnerable schoolchildren
A huge wave of public support is being shown to a Southwater cafe which is providing free meals to vulnerable schoolchildren during this week’s half term holiday.
Serena Jennings, owner of Southwater Country Park Café, said the Government decision not to extend free school meals to families on lower incomes during the pandemic - being pioneered by footballer Marcus Rashford - “makes your blood boil.”
Initially, the cafe said it would provide 20 free packed lunches from Monday to Friday this week “for children of anyone who is struggling at this terrible time, absolutely free.”
But the cafe has been amazed by the amount of support it has received with members of the public dipping into their pockets and paying for extra lunches for any child in need.
The packed lunches consist of a sandwich, piece of fruit, small cake or biscuit, packet of crisps and a drink.
The cafe asks any family that wants to receive a lunch to contact them via their Facebook page and is also keen to hear from anyone who might be able to collect and deliver lunches.
Serena said that already members of the public had given more than £300 in donations towards providing meals. “A huge thank you to you all - your kindness is heart warming and we are very grateful indeed.”
She said any meal credits not used by by Friday would be held until the next school holidays. “However we are really hoping they are and that we can raise more funding to cover all school holidays - or until the government rectify their poor decision.
“It sickens us to know that highly paid MPs have a £25 a day complimentary allowance for food but growing innocent children have none.”
Other groups in the Horsham area have also rallied to help children with their own free meal schemes. Keeley’s Nursery in Horsham has been preparing meals for pick-ups by local parents this week.
In a social media post, the nursery said: “We truly are all so humbled. Thank you to #marcusrashford for his inspiring actions. As a nation, we must come together to end child poverty.”
And chip shop The Master Fryer in Billingshurst has also stepped in to help with its own scheme of free sausage and chips for children in need this half term week. · In a Facebook message, the shop said: “We were shocked to see MPs vote down the motion to provide free school lunches to deserving children throughout the October half term holiday so we are stepping in to help out.”