Royston community steps up to the plate to help provide for children during half term

PUBLISHED: 17:50 27 October 2020 | UPDATED: 18:06 27 October 2020

The Royston Best Grill team are offering a free meal and Ribena to up to three children per household until November 6 - in support of Marcus Rashford's campaign to end child food poverty. Picture: Royston Best Grill

The Royston Best Grill team are offering a free meal and Ribena to up to three children per household until November 6 - in support of Marcus Rashford's campaign to end child food poverty. Picture: Royston Best Grill

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Royston eateries and other community groups 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.

Safwaan Choudhury, managing director of the British Raj Express. Picture: Safwaan ChoudhurySafwaan Choudhury, managing director of the British Raj Express. Picture: Safwaan Choudhury

In the summer, footballer Marcus Rashford campaigned for children to continue to access this vital service during school holidays while jobs are being lost and the economy is impacted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The government backed free meals over the summer hoidays, but MPs voted down the Labour motion to continue it during the October half term this week and the Christmas holidays – including MP for North East Herts Sir Oliver Heald and South Cambs MP Anthony Browne.

Since the vote, restaurants, takeaways and community organisations have taken to social media to express their support for those affected – and Marcus Rashford has been sharing offers of free food for youngsters in need on his Twitter feed, including those in our area.

Safwaan Choudhury of the British Raj Express in Kneesworth Street said: “We feel inspired by the outpour of support across the country from local businesses and the campaign led by Marcus Rashford MBE has been simply incredible. We at British Raj Express have contacted Make Lunch Royston to help distribute nutritious curry lunches in North Hertfordshire this half term.

Louise Bradley, Cate Hall and Royston mayor Rob Inwood - who has visited Make Lunch to show his support. Picture: Courtesy of Rob InwoodLouise Bradley, Cate Hall and Royston mayor Rob Inwood - who has visited Make Lunch to show his support. Picture: Courtesy of Rob Inwood

“If anybody in the area is in need of any assistance whatsoever, please do not hesitate in contacting us via Facebook or email safwaan@britishraj.co.uk – no questions asked, no child should go hungry.”

Ensum Brown estate agents have also donated to the Make Lunch Royston project, which has been providing meals and activities to Royston families since 2015 and is now delivering food packages to registered families.

Royston Best Grill & Pizza in High Street is offering free meals for up to three children per household from their children’s menu until Friday, November 6. They said: “We hope this will help any family struggling in this difficult time.”

Moreno’s Cafe in Angel Pavement took to their Facebook page to say they will be offering free meals to youngsters accompanied by a parent/guardian in the half term week ending on Friday. They said: “We are all going through a very tough period and if we can all stick together and help each other out, we will get through it as a community!”

Royston Foodbank, run by Royston Evangelical Church, has thanked the Royston Costa Coffee team for their “incredibly generous donation of 37 vouchers for the foodbank and Make Lunch families.

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The foodbank is open Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9am to 11am the evangelical church.

“Please do come along if you are in need of food, especially over half term,” they said.

Mandy Jinkerson, Royston Tesco Community Champion, has donated a large number of boxes of pasta to go to households of schoolchildren in Royston and villages who could benefit most.

The vast excess of dried pasta was going to be donated to the Food Share scheme in Therfield, which is run from St Mary’s Church in the village and collects food which is shortly going out of date to help reduce waste.

Due to the school meal provision in holidays not being continued, Tara McGovern, who is the head of Therfield First School, contacted schools to offer the food to families in hardship instead.

Within 24 hours, Mandy delivered boxes to King James Academy Royston, Icknield Walk and Tannery Drift first schools and the Barley and Barkway First Schools Federation.

Mrs McGovern said: “This is another shining example of what is possible when people come together to make a difference – our community looking out for our community.”

The Food Share scheme is run out of St Mary’s church in Therfield every Wednesday and Sunday at 11.30am.

The North Herts Healthy Hub, run by North Herts District Council, is also open during half term week for families who need emergency help with food, energy bills and other essential items.

Cllr Judi Billing said: “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.”

Call 01462 474111.


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