Make sure none of Hertfordshire's children go hungry over the school holidays

A letter from Stephen Giles-Medhurst, County Group Leader, Hertfordshire Liberal Democrats


Dear Sir or Madam,

At last Tuesday’s Full Council meeting (20 October 2020) the Conservative-run County Council rejected a LibDem motion, which was supported by Labour, to call on the government to support Marcus Rashford’s call for free school meals during school holidays.

Later in the week the Government similarly rejected that move for England. Shocking given Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are offering this provision!

Following this, it was great to see so many businesses and voluntary groups stepping up and offering meals and support so that children do not go hungry.

With 19,820 children in Hertfordshire receiving free school meals, it is only the County Council, as the education authority, that can ensure every child and family in need can be reached.

We called on the Conservative administration to step in and so far they have refused. To force them to listen and act, the Liberal Democrat opposition have called an Extraordinary County Council Meeting (we wait for Tory Chair to agree a date which is required to by next week) to consider the following motion.

In light of the government's decision not to provide support for continued free school meals for those in receipt of these during the school holidays this Council commits to such provision through its facilities with or without the support of community groups up to and including the Easter holidays in 2021.

The Labour group on the county council backs our move.

There is also a non-political online petition,  Make sure none of Hertfordshire's children go hungry over the school holidays.

No child, whatever their situation should be forced to go hungry over the school holidays, let alone during a global pandemic. Let us not forget that 32 per cent of families have lost income during this pandemic. Other education authorities have stepped in to help and we need Hertfordshire to do likewise. The Conservative Deputy Leader is saying they provided additional support to more than 3,500 children and young people and some grants to families in need. That is not good enough.

I urge your readers to sign the non-political petition asap and to lobby Conservative county Councillors and to support opposition ones. We need to make our views known loud and clear that no child shall go hungry, if the government refuses to act then we must and indeed can.

Yours,

Stephen Giles-Medhurst
County Group Leader, Hertfordshire Liberal Democrats