Welwyn Hatfield restaurants offer free meals over half term for children

PUBLISHED: 16:58 27 October 2020 | UPDATED: 17:15 27 October 2020

The Wellington Pub, Welwyn. Picture: DANNY LOO

The Wellington Pub, Welwyn. Picture: DANNY LOO

©2019 Danny Loo Photography - all rights reserved

A number of locations across Welwyn Hatfield are volunteering their services to provide free meals over half term to children who would normally receive free school meals.

The Sheldan Inn in Welwyn Garden City. Picture:The Sheldan InnThe Sheldan Inn in Welwyn Garden City. Picture:The Sheldan Inn

The Sheldan Inn, the Wellington at Welwyn and the Creative Catering stand are providing free meals this week after footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign to extend free meals nationwide beyond term time was voted down in parliament.

Manager at The Wellington, Dan Tubbs, said: “We took the decision to try and help out the local community by providing the free lunch for children that would normally receive these at school following the recent discussion points.

“This isn’t a political protest, it’s not a stand against any decisions made, it was simply to offer something back to the local community that we are part of where people have highlighted how they could struggle in these times.

“We have had a tough year financially and emotionally, as have all other businesses and lots of families through the economy, lockdowns, unemployment and everything else. The local community supported us post lockdown by returning and although we are still only at roughly 50 per cent capacity due to social distancing, it is our wonderful community that has meant we could stay open with these measures in place.

Grant Shapps, the MP for Welwyn Hatfield. Picture: Richard Townshend.Grant Shapps, the MP for Welwyn Hatfield. Picture: Richard Townshend.

“We must acknowledge the willingness and support firstly of other local people that have offered to donate financially and with food and drink items towards the fulfillment of this offer which has been immensely generous and so wide spread. Then secondly to our wonderful suppliers, some local some national, of which have all one way or another agreed to support – with products donated or at reduced costs to help towards funding and supplying these meals.

“All of which has shown just how well people can react and how much amazing community spirit and goodwill there really is out there.”

The Sheldan Inn raised more than £600 in crowdfunding for their cause. They posted to their Facebook: “We have been impressed and encouraged by what other Hertfordshire businesses have done to provide support to local children in half term. We also want to lend a hand by helping out others that may need support in Welwyn Garden City, especially since as a gluten free, allergy-aware establishment, we know the added cost pressure on families living with dietary issues and intolerances.

The Creative Catering stand in Potters Bar have said they believe no child should go hungry and are offering a pack lunch that can be collected or delivered (within a five mile radius) to anyone who would’ve been entitled to a free school meal in Potters Bar or surrounding areas.

Even individuals have been helping out, Welham Green resident Adam Wilson volunteered his services to provide school meals, but due to a lack of people to feed he is giving all the food he was donated to a food bank.

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A spokesperson on behalf of Grant Shapps said: “While there has been considerable coverage of what Parliament did not agree, there has been less attention to what it did agree and what Grant supported. Following the debate you mention, MPs backed the existing emergency package of support measures for families which is worth billions on top of Free School Meals. Parliament endorsed ongoing activities to help the most vulnerable children in society.

“But even now schools are operating as normal, we must continue to find ways, alongside free school meals, to ensure children do not go hungry. Extra steps have been needed during the pandemic to help families in our area, including over holiday periods.

“Free School Meals are intended to support children while they are learning and 99 per cent of schools are now back open. During the holidays, families must have a robust safety net, which can help them cope with the extra pressures of coronavirus. At the start of the pandemic, key benefits were boosted by over £1,000 per year for 12 months, part of a £9.3bn increase to the welfare safety net. Councils have also been given £63m to help those families most in need, including supplying food if that is appropriate.

“As the pandemic evolves, the Government must remain open to additional support measures based on the need at the time.

“Anyone following the debate will see as the need has changed during the pandemic, so support has too. Indeed, the day after this debate, which carried no weight, new job support measures were announced. As winter approaches, Grant expects colleagues to continue in this spirit to support the most vulnerable children in a range of ways.

“Grant applauds the work of Marcus Rashford in bringing the issue of food poverty into the light this summer and believes he is very deserving of his recently announced MBE.

“We all want to do what we can to alleviate child food poverty and as such Grant is pleased that the Government acted to ensure eligible children could still receive free school meals this summer.

“The three policy proposals put forward by Mr Rashford’s taskforce have been suggested in Part 1 of the National Food Strategy and Grant knows Ministers are carefully considering these proposals. Further, it is welcome that the Schools Minister has said he would be happy to meet with Mr Rashford to discuss the issue.”

Visit here to find out more about The Sheldan Inn’s offer

Visit here to find out about Wellington at Welwyn’s offer.

Visit here to find out about the Creative Catering stand’s offer.

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