Tower Hamlets pledges free school meals over half term

Pic: Jacob King/PA Wire

Children in Tower Hamlets will get free meals distributed to them over the October half term the mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said yesterday, adding he was disappointed in the government.

On Wednesday evening MPs rejected a Labour motion in the House of Commons calling for the provision of free school meals during the half term holiday for children in food poverty by 322 votes to 261. The 322 votes were all Conservative party members. 

Biggs said: “I’m disappointed the government voted against providing meals for our most disadvantaged children…Children should not be going hungry in 2020 and as a council we are stepping in to provide a safety net to our residents.” 

The Labour motion followed a petition by Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford who urged MPs to “unite” on the issue and to not be influenced by “political affiliation”.

Tower Hamlets council said they will continue to provide food to their voluntary and community sector partners. Sustain rated the Tower Hamlets one of the top boroughs regarding action on tackling food poverty.

The council said they will also continue to offer their Resident Support Scheme to support those most in need, despite the government previously scrapping these loans. 

Tower Hamlets already provides free school meals for primary school children, this is on top of the more limited support from the government.

Biggs said: “In term time as we know, hungry children don’t learn effectively.”

There are currently 1.4 million children within the UK suffering from food poverty and Tower Hamlets has the highest ranking of child poverty in London according to the latest report from End Child Poverty Alliance. 

Any Tower Hamlets resident who may require this support with food can call the council on 020 7364 3030 from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Any residents who live in the borough and would like to help can donate to the Tower Hamlets food bank at these locations:

Sainsbury’s Superstore Whitechapel 

1 Cambridge Heath Road


E1 5SD

Waitrose Canary Wharf 

Canada Place, Canada Square 


E14 5EW

Waitrose St Katherine’s Docks 

Thomas More Street 



The vote and ensuing backlash continue to dominate the headlines in the UK.

Many businesses and councils have pledged to help those who need it over the holidays. Many restaurants and football clubs are donating meals which can be picked up in confidentiality. 

Popular feeling is some parts of the country has seen businesses showing their displeasure towards key government figures.

The chancellor Rishi Sunak has been barred ‘for life’ from The Mill pub and its restaurant II Mulino in North Yorkshire’s Stokesley for voting against the extension of free school meals. Alex Cook, the owner, has stated that it was not done for publicity but rather from his own beliefs. This is in Sunak’s constituency of Richmond, Yorkshire.

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