Stevenage and North Herts businesses ensuring children don’t go hungry this half term

PUBLISHED: 11:23 27 October 2020 | UPDATED: 12:12 28 October 2020

The Engine, Baldock. Picture: DANNY LOO

The Engine, Baldock. Picture: DANNY LOO

©2018 Danny Loo Photography - all rights reserved

Eateries across North Herts are offering free food to help families affected by last week’s parliament vote not to extend free school meals during the October and Christmas holidays.

Vutie Beets in Letchworth has been providing free school meals, while residents donate money to help them supply free dinners to those in need. Picture: Vutie BeetsVutie Beets in Letchworth has been providing free school meals, while residents donate money to help them supply free dinners to those in need. Picture: Vutie Beets

From today through to Friday, Chicken George in Hitchin will be catering for children up to the age of 16. Between 2pm and 4pm, those in need can pick up a kids meal at the takeaway in Bancroft.

Also in Bancroft, Caffé Elite will be offering meals between 11am and 3pm. Sainbury’s Hitchin donated drinks, crisps and snacks to the café.

Carribean King in Churchgate will be helping out between 1pm and 2pm. Owners invited parents and said: “It is a very difficult time and no school dinners for a lot of families is a huge burden that no loving parent needs to carry ontop of surviving this horrendous world we are living in at the moment.”

Letchworth vegan café Vutie Beets, which suffered a break-in last week, has also been making meals for those affected during half term – and many have rallied around offering donations.

Chicken George will be distributing free meal for children from their Hitchin and Luton branches. Picture: Dan SimpsonChicken George will be distributing free meal for children from their Hitchin and Luton branches. Picture: Dan Simpson

They said: “We stand with Marcus Rashford and Fareshare UK in making sure no child in our local community goes hungry this half term. If the government won’t look out for the children in our community when they need it most, then we will.

“Over half term, Monday to Friday between 12pm and 2pm any child between the ages of four and 16 (accompanied by a guardian) can come and collect a free meal.

“Please don’t be embarrassed to drop us a message if you need support. We will do all we can to help.”

In Baldock, you can head to the Engine pub during half term. All children can eat for free with an added 50 per cent off adult meals between 12 noon and 6pm.

North Herts District Council offices in Gernon Road, Letchworth. Picture: North Herts District CouncilNorth Herts District Council offices in Gernon Road, Letchworth. Picture: North Herts District Council

On top of this all Baldock children that receive free school meals can collect either a hot or cold lunch meal. These lunches must be pre-ordered in the Engine’s Facebook inbox.

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Around 2,300 children in the North Herts district are entitled to free school meals – and as of January this year, the figure stood at 1.4 million children in England.

North Herts District Council has also stepped up to help. A spokeswoman said: “The council doesn’t want any child to go hungry this half term. The North Herts Healthy Hub, a service run by the council, has contacted local community groups and created a flyer to sign post residents in need to local food providers in their area.

“The flyers list a number of organisations throughout the district who are able to provide food parcels and essential items to those who are struggling.”

The North Herts Healthy Hub is open during half term week and the team is available to speak to families who need emergency help with food, energy bills and other essential items.

Cllr Judi Billing said: “As an administration we are deeply disappointed in the government and the county council for not making arrangements for children entitled to free school meals to have meals or vouchers over this half term. We encourage anyone in the district with a need for meals for their children at half term to contact one of the groups in our food provision network.”

If your family needs support, please contact the Healthy Hub or one of the organisations listed on the flyer.

READ MORE: Stevenage council and restaurant offering help to those affected by free school meals vote

In Stevenage, The Pear Tree pub in Valley Way followed suit to help families in the Shephall area, as well as fish and chip shop JJ’s Plaice.

Surma takeaway in Stevenage High Street has also made a number of free meals for children from 5.30pm to 6.30pm.

Owner Oli Kahn aims to serve 2,000 meals during half term across Hertfordshire.

The Real Food Company, run by husband and wife Josh and Ahisha Ferguson, prepared free meals. They said: “The truth is, we don’t have much, but what we do have we want to share with others.”

Those in need can message their Facebook page to access a meals over half term.


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