On Wednesday evening the government voted against the call from opposition MPs and the Marcus Rashford campaign to extend Free School Meal provision across all holidays until Easter 2021.
As a result of this, Manchester Central Foodbank are now stepping up our plans to work with local schools to provide holiday meals to families in Manchester this Christmas where funds, food stocks, and staffing will allow.
Even during the summer, when families eligible for Free School Meals received food vouchers, we still provided 1,500 meals to families not eligible who were struggling to afford enough food for their children.
Our additional holiday provision will be on top of the trebling in need for food support seen since lockdown began, a trend we sadly expect to continue, if not intensify, particularly following the government announcement on Tuesday that newly-furloughed workers in Greater Manchester will only receive two-thirds of their wages during Tier 3 regulations.
This comes as Greater Manchester Poverty Action reports that the number of people living in poverty in Greater Manchester has risen to 620,000, and the number of people claiming unemployment benefits rose by 93% between May and August.
This is going to be a hard winter for thousands in our city.
We would like to urge anyone who is able to please donate to your local foodbank in the coming months. This could be food, toiletries, or money. Every donation, however small, will make a difference to someone in our community.
We also encourage everyone to sign the online petitions of the Marcus Rashford #EndChildFoodPoverty campaign and from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation to #KeepTheLifeline and not cut £1k from households receiving Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits in Manchester.
Please also contact your MP to encourage them to support these campaigns, particularly if your MP is a supporter of the government, and share this message as much and as far as you can.
Thank you, Manchester for your tremendous and unprecedented support in recent months and the difference your donations and activism will make this winter.
As a city and region we will look after our own, even if the government will not.
With your support we know we can get through this and we firmly believe that with enough voices raised, This Can Change.