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Gloucestershire Business News

Families urged to use offers of holiday food help

Dame Janet Trotter has thanked charities, business and organisations in Gloucestershire which have made free or cheap meals available for families throughout half term.

And the former Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire, who chairs Child Friendly Gloucestershire, urged families to take up the offers of help to ensure no child goes hungry during the holiday.

She said "I am very pleased these local initiatives for Gloucestershire children will ensure that, in these difficult times, no child will go hungry in the half-term period.

"We are working hard to ensure that our young people grow up healthily and I would like to thank all those who are going the extra mile to make sure this happens.

Many of the projects supported by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner are offering help, including Roots in Gloucester and Fair Shares.

Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl said help is needed now more than ever.

He said: "Child poverty was already an unseen pandemic which has been intensified by Covid. That's why the work of Child Friendly Gloucestershire is so relevant and needed in the county.

"I am incredibly grateful to the many projects and charities across Gloucestershire, which are going over and above the call of duty to support families with meals and food parcels during such a difficult time.

"The Commissioner's Fund will continue to do all it can to support those organisations financially, and we will look at how we can offer additional support over Christmas as the national situation changes."

The Government opted not to extend free school meals throughout the holiday, as it did during the summer following a campaign by Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford.

Among the Gloucestershire businesses offering free meals this week is The Golden Cross pub in Cirencester, which will serve 20 hot meals from 11am-noon each day on a first come, first served basis.

Landlord Mark Lindesay said: "It strikes me as frankly wrong for kids to potentially go hungry in this country at any time, but in the middle of a pandemic, I consider the lack of support to be especially cruel.

"This isn't necessarily - and certainly shouldn't be - a political issue. I believe it's moral one."

In Gloucester, the Friends of Elmbridge group has raised more than £700 to buy food vouchers for children at Elmbridge and Longlevens schools.

Chair Sarah Sawyer said: "The pandemic has shown us all how important it is that we look out for those in our community.

"We want the councils to step in with where the Government has failed and guarantee to provide families of children with food tokens to cover the Christmas period."

Community organisations in Cheltenham are running a holiday hunger scheme as part of the #feedcheltenham network.

Co-ordinator Sarah Avery said: "We know that there are around 3,100 children in Cheltenham that access free school meals during term time, but in the school holidays there is a risk that these children can go hungry.

"By making nutritious family-sized meals available from our five partners, we can help reduce this risk."

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