Lambeth has added itself to the list of councils providing free school meals to all children who need them over half term. 

The move, set to cost about £165,000, follows the same action from local authorities in Liverpool, Doncaster, Southwark, Redbridge and Hammersmith & Fulham.  

The announcement comes after the Government rejected a Labour motion to extend free school meals over school holidays.  

If passed, it would have provided 1.4m disadvantaged children in England with £15-a-week food vouchers during holidays until Easter 2021.  

According to the Government, it is helping low-income families through the welfare system, through raising Universal Credit by £20 a week, and adjusting housing benefit.    

But the decision, voted down by 322 to 261, has been widely criticised. 

Lambeth announced on Friday (October 23) it will send out food vouchers to more than 10,000 children.  

Councillor Jack Hopkins, Lambeth Council leader, said “now is the time for compassion”.  

“I was really disappointed this week that the Government refused to support plans to give all children who need it free meals over the school holidays.  

“Lambeth council will step up where there is a failure of national action, just has we have done throughout this pandemic. 

“We will ensure every child who needs it gets free school meals for half term next week. Our schools provide a vital safety net for many struggling families, but we know that gaps remain in that safety net in particularly during school holidays.  

“Levels of poverty are only increasing due to the economic hardship of the Covid-19 pandemic and now is the time for us all to recognise the need for compassion and support for all,” he said.  

Manchester United player Marcus Rashford has been campaigning for free school meals to be given to children during holidays. 

The footballer, who received an MBE for his efforts to end child poverty, was successful in lobbying the Government for food vouchers during summer. 

Cllr Ed Davie, Lambeth’s cabinet member for children and young people, described the 22-year-old’s campaign to end child food poverty as “powerful”. 

“We’ve seen a powerful national campaign by Marcus Rashford that has forced action on the issue of child food poverty. 

“This week we saw the limits of the government’s willingness to act – so Lambeth will do so, just as we have done during summer holidays for many years.  

“Alleviating holiday hunger is a key part of tackling child poverty – and the desire to ensure such inequalities no longer exist in our communities is what drives this council. 

“The council will fund the scheme, costing approximately £165,000 and distribute it via vouchers. It will support over 10,000 children from families on low incomes,” he said.