Football star inspires community to make sure children don’t go hungry

FOOTBALL star Marcus Rashford has inspired businesses and charities to make sure children in the Woking area who receive free school meals are fed during the half-term break.

With the Government rejecting pleas to extend the meals scheme into the holidays, takeaways, pubs, bakeries, supermarkets, councils, foodbanks and even Woking Football Club are weighing to fill the gap.

Volunteers preparing supply parcels at Woking Foodbank’s warehouse in Sheerwater, earlier this year

Rooster Shack takeaway in Maybury Hill, Woking was one of the first businesses in the area to support the Manchester United player’s campaign to ensure children do not go hungry outside term time.

It is offering food to children whose parents or guardians can show proof of entitlement to free school meals.

“No child should be going hungry no matter what the circumstances are,” said managing director Imran Mamud. “We hope that this incentive will help the most vulnerable in our community.”

The Junction Tap pub in Chertsey Road, Woking, is also giving packed lunches to families who are struggling to feed their children during half-term.

“We are funding this through the team’s generosity and some fundraising events over the next few weeks,” said general manager CeeJay Williams. “No child should struggle to eat so please ask for help.”

Woking FC is directing needy families to charities that provide food. “West Surrey has thousands of children living in poverty and, in the midst of a pandemic and inevitable economic hardship, we want to commit the club to doing what we can in these unprecedented times,” says a statement on the club’s website.

The club will put families from Woking borough in touch with the Foodwise charity or refer them to Woking Foodbank. Anyone who needs help should contact club chaplain Ian Nicholson, phone 07976351891, email chaplain@wokingfc.co.uk.

Woking Foodbank, continuing to deliver emergency food parcels six days a week, is receiving referrals from schools and social services of families that need extra help in the school holidays.

It can be contacted on 07309 115862 between 10am and 12 30pm Monday to Friday, or via www.woking.foodbank.org.uk.

Local foodbanks have received financial assistance from Woking Borough Council through the Emergency Assistance Grant. Throughout the school holidays, frozen healthy meals have been delivered by local charity, Foodwise, and food parcels packaged and distributed to those most in need from foodbanks.

Cllr Ayesha Azad, leader of the council, said: “Food is a basic human need and it is a tragedy that there are young people in our borough going without. We, as a council, are proud to stand together with our community to tackle child food poverty.

“To families who need support, please don’t suffer in silence. No one should struggle to feed their children and help is available to those who require it.”

Members of the Welcome Church in Woking have also rallied to support families whose children receive free school meals. Parents or guardians can request a supermarket voucher by sending a message via the church website, www.allwelcome.uk, or by emailing email care@allwelcome.uk.

“This offer is free, confidential and comes with no strings attached,” said a spokesman. “Between us we can help lots of families across Woking.”

Heaters Bakery at Bisley is providing lunch packs for children who usually receive free school meals. The shop, which is supporting at least one family with five children, is contacting families through Bisley Primary School.

“We are so incredibly grateful to Heaters and blown away, once again, by the generosity of the village we are lucky enough to be part of,” Mrs McConnell

The school has set up its own food bank, to assemble emergency parcels for families in need, and has so far raised £360 of a £500 target on a JustGiving page to buy supplies.

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