Thanet steps up to pledge help following government rejection of extension to free school meals

Hartsdown head teacher Matt Tate says the school will provide vouchers for meals

Thanet businesses and schools will be make sure isle children are fed in reaction to the vote in Parliament this week which rejected extending the free school meals scheme into the school holidays.

On Wednesday evening a a Labour motion to provide free school meals during the holidays over school breaks until Easter 2021 fell by 322 votes to 261.

Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay voted against the extension and MP Sir Roger Gale did not vote.

The failure of the motion, which was prompted by footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign, has caused fury in Thanet and across the country.

In response Hartsdown Academy in Margate has said it will provide meal vouchers during the half term break this month.

In a post to the social media sites the school says: “Hartsdown Academy will be providing free school meal vouchers over half term to our eligible students.

The way that  Marcus Rashford has relentlessly campaigned to #EndChildFoodPoverty has been an inspiration to many (including us).

He has used his celebrity status to draw attention to important social issues has been positive, constructive and provided an excellent example to many young people. #FreeSchoolMeals.”

Matt Day and business partner Clark Scriven Day’s Bar and Grill in Margate

Day’s Grills, in Margate and Manston, is also pledging a sandwich meal for those in need. Boss Matt Day said: “Any donations of crisps, bread, rolls and sandwich fillers would be great to assist us. We will have a donation pot in store for those in a position to donate.”

Call 01843 446911 or go to

GB Pizza

GB Pizza in Margate has also issued a statement to say the business will offer a children’s takeaway for free.

They posted to social media: “In light of the disgraceful vote in the Commons, rejecting the free schools meal scheme being continued during the school holidays, championed by the wonderful Marcus Rashford, we felt we just had to do something.

“During this half-term we will be offering a free takeaway kids’ Margate-rita and a carton of fruit juice all through the half-term.

“From Monday you can call the team (01843 297700) and order a takeaway pizza. Or pop in and show the team this post. Just give us your name and contact number and we’ll let you know when you can collect your food. This offer is available from Monday to Friday next week, from 12-5pm.

“We’re just a small business, working in incredibly difficult times, so please only use this offer if you genuinely need to – this means we can reach more kids who need it. Please feel free to share this post on local groups – we have already communicated this offer with local domestic violence workers. Teachers, please share with your kids and their parents.”

Roarke and Ann Newstead from The Kitchen CT9

The Kitchen CT9 is working with Changing Minds as well as a group of local concerned families, and will be helping to support a number of households over the half term to make sure children do not go hungry.

The Changing Minds organisation, based in Westgate, said: “In response to the recent government decision not to fund free lunches for children in need over the half term period, we will be providing 500 free lunch bags for children in Thanet over the next two weeks.

Each bag will contain a cheese or ham sandwich freshly prepared by our friends at The Kitchen CT9, light crisps, fruit bar, raisins, bottle of water and a delicious apple from Nash Farm Thanet as well as some colouring pencils and our “Design your own lunchbox” colouring competition!”

You can pick up your child’s bag from the following locations on these dates:

Monday 26th October : The Lodge, Westgate-on-sea, CT8 8SN

Tuesday 27th – Friday 30th : Our Kitchen on the Isle of Thanet at 51 High Street, Margate, CT9 1DX

Monday 2nd November: The Lodge, Westgate-on-sea, CT8 8SN

Tuesday 3rd – Friday 6th November : Our Kitchen on the Isle of Thanet – 51 High Street, Margate, CT9 1DX

(If you would like to donate so we can provide even more lunch bags for children in need across Thanet, you can do so by visiting –

The Kitchen CT9 is offering families with school aged children to come in and dine for free. They say: “We don’t just want to offer for the kids to eat free: we recognise that some families are unable to afford the meal for the adult to bring them for their free meal!

“We want to provide more than just nutrition, but to provide the family with a memory of a meal shared, enjoying a “normal” family activity – eating out together – returning dignity to those in need. We are COVID safe and committed to ensuring this takes place in a safe way in light of the pandemic and the rules in place to protect us all.

“We are open 9.30am-3pm Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday for families to come in and dine with us. Just come in

“As an alternative, we can provide a pre-prepared meal for children in households without easy access to cooking facilities (relying on a microwave for example, or children having to prepare their own meal) or a “ready to prepare” bag of groceries allowing a family to prepare their own meal. If that applies to you, please get in touch privately with us via messaging our Facebook page, direct message on Instagram (@thekitchenct9), Twitter (@thekitchen_ct9), or via the contact form on our website (, so that we can make arrangements with you.

“This offer is being funded directly by the small charity behind the Kitchen, Thanet Iceberg Project, by many, many generous individuals in the community who have donated to our specific fundraiser for this scheme, as well as direct donations from other local organisations. With a 3 course meal and several drinks costing around £10 here at the Kitchen, even a small amount is going to go a long way.”

To donate, please visit

Broadstairs Co-Op will provide free lunch for any child who needs it next week. Pop into the High Street store the day before and let staff know you would like it and they will get it prepped and ready.

Margate Coffee Shed says: ” If you are struggling to feed your younger ones this week then please pop in and ask for a “Shed Box”. No purchase necessary and no questions asked.”

Express Cars Thanet are willing to help distribute across Thanet if needed. Contact us on 08000472301

Kent Fresh in Westbrook says: “If you find you are struggling just pop us over a message, we will be able to sort something even if it is just a small box of veg.”

The store has also added a ‘community bag’ to its site. All purchases of the bag online will go to making veg crates for people to collect free of charge.
They say: “For £1 this can help us a huge amount, simply click collect in store to avoid the delivery charge, or if adding to an existing order there will be no extra charge if the purchase is £10 or more.”

McDonald’s has joined forces with food redistribution charity Fareshare to fund one million meals for families in need.

The new foodbank in St Peter’s at St Peter’s Baptist Church for all CT10 residents can give food parcels on a Friday morning under the Thanet FoodLink umbrella. 10.30am to noon.

Contact Kate Grant on 07385 290358 or CT10 Parochial Charities on [email protected] or phone 07785 966666.

Ramsgate FC has also joined the effort, in partnership with Day’s Grills. The club said: “If you play youth football for any club in Thanet and are in need of a hot meal during half term please come to Southwood between 12:30pm and 1:30pm.

“In partnership with our sponsors Day’s Grills and inspired by Marcus Rashford and FareShare charity, we will be opening our canteen to serve pasta, fruit and a drink to all youth football players in Thanet and their siblings who need a hot lunch next week.”

According to the Food Foundation more than 1.4 million children experience food insecurity during the holidays and 6.3 percent of children are worried about going hungry during the upcoming October half-term.

Under 1 Roof Kids Thanet in Ramsgate is also pitching in.

They said: “Following on from some other amazing local businesses we too are disgusted by the latest vote from our politicians and want to do what we can to help our local families in need, who will struggle without their free school meals this half term.

“We will be providing free take away pasta pots for you to pre-order and collect from our main reception, discreetly from the front desk, to take away. This is for any family struggling to make ends meet & to ensure that their children can be fed if missing out on free school meals.

“We kindly ask that you pre-order the pasta pots the day before by calling 01843 570913 and let us know how many you will be needing and we will advise of suitable collection times.

“This initiative is being set up for those families who will be struggling financially this half term and to ensure that NO child goes hungry.

“Please only use this service if you are in need of it, to ensure that we are able to help those most at risk from going hungry.

“We will set up a donation point at the tills if anybody wishes to donate towards the running of this half term service.”

The Gap Project, based at the Queen’s Road Baptist Church in Broadstairs, will be providing free lunches for children during the half term. The cafe is open Tuesday-Friday, 10am-2pm. Stop by to get the free lunch.

Roost restaurant and cafe in Cliff Terrace, Cliftonville, is offering free kids meals 12pm-3pm, Mon-Friday next week.

J Prentis in Westgate is also helping families in need this half term.

From Monday to Friday they are offering a free box of some fruit and vegetables. In the box will be a bag of apples, a bunch of bananas, some onions, potatoes, a cabbage, some carrots and a swede. There will be five on offer from Monday to Friday.

They said: “If you or someone you know are in need just message us to reserve one and state the day you would like it. It’s great to be able to give back to those who support us and used our services during lock down.” Find them on facebook here

MIB Salvage and boss Clayton Holloway are providing free hot meals for families in need. The salvage and clearance firm can be contacted by calling 0800 1022 515 or via their facebook page

Newington Fish Bar, Ramsgate, also joins the effort, saying: “During these very difficult and challenging times at Newington fish bar we were very disappointed the government did not support the motion for free school meals for half term .

“So we would like to offer all children of school age free sausage and chips Monday to Friday lunch time until 3pm, all you have to do is bring your children with you to get a free school meals

“Stay safe and well everyone from all of us at Newington fish bar. Only one meal per child per day.”

Archie’s Fish Bar in Minster is kindly offering all children of school age free kid’s sausage and chips from Monday to Friday lunch time until 3pm.

They say: Just bring your children to our Fish and chips shop and give your mind some rest during such difficult time. Stay safe and well everyone from all of us at Archie’s Fish and Chips shop. Only one meal per child per day.”
Inside Our Shop Photo Caroline Dyal
Over the half term Our Kitchen on the Isle of Thanet is making banana pancakes and other recipes live in Our Food Club at 51 High Street, Margate ( next to KFC).and thanks to Steve Migan from the Changing Minds project in Westgate they will have a range of  sandwiches to give away to children. They say: “Despite what Parliament has decided we will be making sure that all our local children eat well. We must break this cycle where poor diet leads to poor health.”
Kent County Council leader Roger Gough

Kent County Council leader Roger Gough says Kent’s most vulnerable families and children should not suffer hardship or hunger throughout this half term week, or at any time in their lives.

He says that help for anyone struggling to provide for their children is available, and that the need to ensure children from low-income families are fed through the school holidays has never been greater.

The authority supports thousands of children across Kent and further help is available through the Emergency Assistance Grant for those who need extra support.

Through the Kent Together Helpline, set up in response to the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak and working in partnership with District and Borough Councils, thousands of vulnerable people in Kent have already been supported and protected from hardship and isolation during the crisis.

“We and our partners have been working to provide emergency assistance to families most at risk,” said Roger Gough.

“I want to reassure anyone that needs financial assistance that this support is there and has always been there. And now, during this half term break, I want to ensure that those who need help and support are really able to get it.

“Whilst the last few months have presented many challenges, the Covid-19 pandemic has shone a light on the strength of partnerships and community spirit, and this has helped us all in supporting those who are most vulnerable in our communities.

“I strongly encourage anyone who needs help, whether during this half-term or indeed at any time, to contact us for help.”

If your child is eligible for free school meals and you are in need of financial assistance this half term you can get in touch by visiting

You can also call the helpline on 03000 41 92 92


  1. Huge Thanks to all those who have been so generous by donating to feed children during the school holidays. Where did the government’s duty of care to look after vulnerable citizens go? MacKinlay is a disgrace. I can’t seem to find if Gale voted to help children out. Does he support this initiative or not?

      • Thats because hes gutless, but thinks not voting on it will keep him in the good books.
        Well done to all the local firms and people getting involved in providing the meals, you should all be proud for being a part of it

  2. Christine, Conservatives Care for themselves and no one else. Thatcher and milk snatcher Johnson the children’s food Snatcher. Theresa May the police snatcher. Ian Duncan Smith the benefit Snatcher. Grab all and give nothing back that’s the Conservatives for you. However let’s be clear the only reason Boris Johnson has 78 MPs majority to enable them to not pay for children’s meals is because Labour were so bad when Corbin was leader. How could have anyone wanted Diane Abbott to be in charge of the police she would have disbanded them.

  3. Well done to everyone who is stepping forward to help our local kids.

    Our PM’s should hang their heads in shame after us taxes payers subsided their food and drink to a tune of nearly 3 million quid a year, in Westminster.

    According to the latest stats taxpayers stumped up £57,000 a week to subsidise food and drink for politicians across both houses.” = £2.96M

  4. Mr Mackinlay has a perfect right to vote with his govt, but he should not imply or suggest that he didn’t.
    He is compounding a mean and thoughtless act, with subterfuge and that makes it all the worse.
    If all is hunky dory with Universal Credit and financial provision for the poor, why are food banks picking up demand and local govt and businesses stepping into the breach.Are they all deluded, are the poor pulling the wool over our collective eyes or do we know more than those at Westminster?
    Are we going to hear more stuff about the undeserving poor, mobile phones, fags and wide screen TV’s from the heartless?I expect so.
    Dissing celebrities, especially if they are a national treasure is asking for trouble. Look even Nigel Farage thinks it’s a bad idea to stop free school meals out of term time and Craig was best friends with him at one time.

    • Mackinley is nothing more than a Johnson brown noser. He will only vote on something that benefits him not Thanet South.

  5. Please vote those rich greedy Tory MP’s out at the next opportunity. They are a disgrace to Thanet. Unbelievable that they can vote against or conveniently abstain from voting on this very important issue. Thanet has one of the highest poverty rates in the Country and we have two MP’s that couldn’t care less.

  6. In this day and age it’s disgusting to even think about children going hungry, I just hope the MPS feel áshamed of themselves , craig McKinley your time as an mp are numbered nobody is ever going to forget this ,even if they vote conservative, Labour or liberal!!!!!

  7. All the help from Thanet Councils and businesses during this pandemic shows that we CAN be a caring and supportive community, even when central government declines to help.
    Though, I worry that the government, and the Tory Party in general(with some noble exceptions),is quite happy to see people dig deep into their own pockets even after they have payed their taxes, so that the government does not have to take responsibility for public well being.
    And they are happy to see people, who already have busy lives, give their spare time to help others , so that central government, again, doesn’t have to take responsibility for the welfare of the country.
    I am reminded of the situation before the creation of the National Health Service when millions struggled to pay for a poor service, when charities payed to maintain clinics, local rich philanthropists built hospitals(if you were lucky) and sick people had to borrow off friends and family to get treatment. THAT could be seen as a magnificent community effort as well.
    But, in the end, we realised that all that hard work and commitment should be pooled into one national effort to ensure treatment for everybody all over the country. And the NHS was born.
    Let’s make sure that our current efforts are not squandered and are also pooled together to create proper public services to make sure that that “Nobody is left behind”.(Sorry to some, that’s a slogan Jeremy Corbyn uses!)

  8. Craig is ex-UKIP, it shows, both our tourist MPs acting disgracefully again.

    Who votes for these morons? What exactly has Craig every done for Thanet except lie and under deliver on already low bar promises.

  9. Most “Child Poverty” is a result of poor choices by parents buyning things they cant afford to please people they dont know. How many Families in “poverty” own Smart Phones, Big TV’s etc.

    • That was a very uneducated statement Lydia, but more in keeping with our MP’s views. This is about feeding the children through school holidays until the pandemic is over, not about parent choices.

      • It is about parents choices! They get nearly £1,500 a month to feed a family of three kids,it wasn’t that long ago my husband was earning that for full time and we brought up our family without going hungry
        Maybe they should be teaching parents about budgeting and not to worry about the new thing that apple bring out or the new Nike’s.
        Why is it when we see parents on the tv who say they live in poverty they seem to have ash trays and phones and tablets for each kid?
        I think all their benefits should go direct to landlords or mortgages,vouchers for gas and electric and the rest food vouchers that don’t allow cigarettes and alcohol.I wonder if that would change things.
        And why should tax payers have to pay again to feed these children,when they already have paid for them to be through benefits.

    • What an unbelievable statement.

      Yea that’s blame the poor kids for the mistakes of their parents, let the little blighters go hungry after all these little kiddies did ask to to brought into this world.

      Yes some parents might not be great but millions live on the bread line and just a drop of a few quid a week will cause problems, so losing say 20% of your living wage is going to hit alot of families very hard.

      With have very few council house now forcing families to pay ridiculous high rent of around 1k a month to private landlords in a very run down area.

      Dont blame the kids for their parents its 2020 and no kids in Britain should be going hungry.

  10. There a lot of people who just take what’s given because they are lazy and think let’s con all these PC do gooders. Separate the needy from the wasters

  11. At the end of the day this is 2020 not 1820 ,shame on the so could MPs of Thanet,enjoy you pay rise,your cheap food ,have a good feed over Christmas,as you do so much for people,and care about the poor ,what next vote for children to go up chimneys to clean them , well done to everyone helping to feed children at this time ,good on you all,sleep well Thanet MPs,thay always do

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