Merton Council has pledged to reimburse schools for any food related support they provide in half term week to those eligible for Free School Meals during term time, up to the value of £15 per child.

The efforts come after the Government defeated a Labour motion to extend free school meals provision in England over the holidays, despite a huge campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford.

On October 21, the Labour motion was rejected by 322 votes to 261.

Since the motion was rejected, volunteer groups, companies and councils have vowed to support children during the half term.

Where schools are not providing direct support themselves, families can be referred onto emergency support provided by organisations, including the Wimbledon Foodbank, the Dons Local Action Group and the Merton Community Fridge Network.

Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Education, Councillor Eleanor Stringer said: “No child in Merton should go hungry this half term.

We know that free school meals are a lifeline for many families and we are committed to bridging the gap this week between some of the most deprived pupils in the borough and their classmates.

“The council supports the campaign to End Child Food Poverty.

"Although we have a fantastic, dedicated network in Merton to support families in need, the Government needs to step in and provide funding directly to families to ensure that no parent has to struggle to feed their children.”