Northamptonshire cafe to give poorest children FREE hot meal this half term

Jenny's Restaurant staff (Francesca pictured front centre) are helping to feed poorer children with a free hot meal this half term.Jenny's Restaurant staff (Francesca pictured front centre) are helping to feed poorer children with a free hot meal this half term.
Jenny's Restaurant staff (Francesca pictured front centre) are helping to feed poorer children with a free hot meal this half term.
All seven of Northamptonshire's Tory MPs voted against the Labour motion to feed hungry children during the school holidays, until 2021

A cafe in Brackley is helping families on low incomes by providing a hot meal to children every day for free during the school holidays.

It comes as all Northamptonshire MPs voted against Wednesday night's Labour motion calling on the Government to extend a voucher scheme set up to feed the country's most deprived children during school holidays until 2021.

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The appeal was publicly spearheaded by footballer Marcus Rashford, who pressured the Government into extending the scheme over summer during the coronavirus pandemic. Hundreds of people in Northampton had signed the petiton.Marcus Rashford has taken to Twitter to post the names of many small businesses, which includes Jenny's Restaurant in Brackley, as charities up and down the country go the extra mile to feed those who the Government are not.

Speaking about being recognised by the Manchester United player on social media, restaurant boss Francesca Gillgill, said: "It's absolutely amazing it's incredible, it goes to show what a humble human being he is and that he really believes in this situation. It's a desperate situation for many families.

"Myself, I've grown up in a very finacially poor situation when I was a child so I understand and emphasise. I can now see it from a mother's perspective now I have children, too.

"No child should go to school hungry and not be able to concentrate on their studies. It's a human right for these children to be fed. They did not ask to be born poor."

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Northamptonshire County Council figures show that the number of children claiming free school meals as of 16th October 2020 was 16,770, compared to 13, 526 claims as of 16th October 2019, an increase of 23.9%.

Francesa is reaching out to schools in South Northamptonshire who might be able to refer parents to her cafe, to avoid them feeling ashamed of having to reach out.

She said: "We want to help as many people as we can but we have to be realistic. We are a small business and we are struggling in the covid period. We have asked the schools to contact these individuals directly.

"I know that first hand it's so hard to ask for help. We don't want people to feel like that and we are in discussions about a direct messaging service, so parents can ask us directly, which we are fine tuning.

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"My dad used to say to me education is freedom and if you can go to school and focus on your studies you can be the best person you can be. But if you spend a whole week with an empty stomach how is that a fair situation for those children to be with other children who have eaten three meals every day?

"Our MP has turned her back on this, it's unbelievable and I'm devestated by it. By providing a hot meal at Jenny's it's something for the children to look forward to and I really hope that for us to put our hands up and say we are here to help you I hope other businesses do too."

Francesca said parents can private message the cafe if they would like to take home their hot meal, or they can choose something on the menu for their children to eat in.

On Sunday, Northamptonshire County Council leader Matt Golby tweeted: "I am pleased to announce @mycountycouncil will fund free school meal vouchers for half term following a request from the NCC cabinet and working closely with our seven Northamptonshire MPs."

Details on how the scheme will work are yet to be released.

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