Across England around 1.4 million children claimed free school meals last year.

Recent analysis from the food foundation foodbank, released as part of footballer Marcus Rashford's campaign to end child food poverty estimates that around 900,000 more children have sought out free school meals on top of the estimated 1.4 million that claimed free school meals last year. Evidencing how that figure has seen a dramatic surge due to the ongoing pandemic that has plunged many families into poverty. London has one of the highest numbers of children on the free school meals program. 

During term time free school meals are provided to children from households earning a max income of £7,400 a year after tax, not including any benefits. This scheme does not include half terms. 

Manchester United and England striker Marcus Rashford campaigned over lockdown for free school meals to be provided by the government and coaxed them into a sharp U turn, in June earlier this year, on the provision of food vouchers to low income families over the summer holidays and over lockdown. 

Rashord recently urged the government into extending the program to cover meals for children over the next upcoming half terms. However the labour attempt to extend the free school meals through the covid-19 pandemic was rejected in the house of commons by the majority of conservative MPs. 

Locally none of Sutton or Croydon's tory MPs voted in favour of the motion Paul Scully (sutton and cheam) and Chris Philp (croydon south) voted against feeding the countries most vulnerable children whilst Eliot Colburn (carshalton and wallington) didn't even showing up. 

Whilst the leaders of lib dem controlled Sutton have been encouraged to join it's near neighbour Croydon on the growing number of local councils providing children with food in their bellies over the break they have not yet made a move to provide hungry children with food this October and December. 

Despite this, whilst those in parliament have not made a move to make a change many local businesses have come to the rescue and answered Rashford's plea in keeping the children fed. 

Here is a list of many local businesses helped to feed Sutton and Croydon's children this October half term: 

Crushed bean - Croydon

The independent coffee shop in Croydon pledged to provide children with breakfast over the half term. 

The breakfast bag includes hot baked beans, some slices of brown toast, a piece of fruit, and juice or bottled water.

Ayata kitchen lounge - Croydon 

Ayata kitchen lounge provided lunch over the October break between 1-3pm to many hungry children over half term. 

Matthews Yard - Croydon

Matthews yard independent cultural hub announced on October 23 via twitter that they would pledge to provide 250 meals for local children who need them over the October break. Meals would be available from 10am. With an expanded menu to eat in or take away. 

Both of their founders benefited from free school meals so they stated via twitter that they know “all too well how vital free school meals are” stating that the “both experience hunger when that safety net wasn't available” 

Spice village - Croydon 

Provided food for vulnerable children this October via collection so that it was completely COVID- 19 safe.