Medway Labour and Cooperative Group have called on Medway Council’s Conservative administration to provide support for vulnerable Medway children over half-term and over the Christmas period.
This week saw two local Conservative MPs vote against a motion to extend free school meals outside of term-time – something that would benefit the over 6,000 children in Medway in receipt of free school meals.
MPs for Rochester and Strood Kelly Tolhurst, and Gillingham Rainham Rehman Chishti voted against the Labour party motion to ensure that no child goes hungry during the current pandemic. According to Government figures, 6,388 children in Medway were eligible for and claimed free school meals in 2019.
Children living in households who are in receipt of income-related benefits are typically eligible for free school meals – however at present this is exclusively within term time.
‘This is not a political issue but a moral one - no child should go hungry, whether they are attending school or not.’ Cllr Pat Cooper
Medway Labour and Co-operative Member of the Children’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Cllr Pat Cooper said, ‘It is deeply disappointing to see our local Conservative representatives vote against what is such a clear-cut issue.
‘Over 6,000 children in Medway rely on free school meals during term-time, and this reliance does not simply disappear over school holidays.
‘This is not a political issue but a moral one – no child should go hungry, whether they are attending school or not.’
Medway Labour and Cooperative Group Leader, Cllr Vince Maple, said, ‘I am really pleased that Medway Council have listened to us and will now be working with Medway’s Citizens Advice Service to ensure Medway’s children will not go hungry. It is still shameful, though, that two of Medway’s Conservative MPs chose to vote against the Labour motion in Parliament that would have protected children across the country from holiday hunger.’