Free school meals holiday extension rejected by MPS

Members of Parliament (MPs) voted to shoot down a proposal that would have seen the government’s continued support for free school meals during the holiday.

The vote, which ended in 261 supporting the bill and 322 voting against it, put an end to months of campaigning by Marcus Rashford, the Manchester United striker, who has been consistently fighting for poor children to get free meals since the pandemic began. The striker succeeded in seeing that the free school meals project was extended during the summer, ensuring that kids did not go hungry during the holidays.

Vote against free school meals

However, the vote ensured that the government was no longer obligated to provide school meals to students. This came after the UK’s Prime Minister indicated that the government would not continue with the free school meals program during the holidays.

However, the MPs were given the reasons who voted against it and those who voted against it that raised eyebrows. Only 5 MPs from the government’s conservative party voted in favor of the legislation.

Among the reasons given by the MPs for voting against the legislation included claims that helping the hungry children during a pandemic would be akin to ‘nationalizing children’, a claim made by Brendan Clarke-Smith. Another MP, Ben Bradley, argued that school meal vouchers meant to go to children were being redirected to crack dens and brothels, and hence the project needed to be voted against. Mark Jenkinson also had similar sentiments when he argued that vouchers were being traded for drugs, although he never provided any proof of that happening.

Senior conservative ministers who held important positions that dealt with children also voted against the proposals. This included the education secretary and the children’s minister, who indicated their opposition to the continuation of the free school meals. Only one conservative minister, Caroline Ansell,  thought this legislation was worth resigning.

However, Marcus Rashford has pledged to continue supporting children, even after the MPs voted against legislation that would have seen them benefit from the initiative. On his Twitter account, the Manchester United player is continuing with his mission of helping poor children by highlighting local businesses and organizations that will be providing free meals to students during the holidays.


Featured image by Unsplash