By Rafi Mauro-Benady
A campaign calling on Wandsworth council to feed children over the Christmas holidays has been launched.
The petition – set up by Wandsworth Labour – was signed 500 times in its first day.
The campaign comes just a week after Wandsworth council announced that it would cover a voucher scheme during the half-term holiday this week for kids who have a social worker or are receiving support from Wandsworth’s children’s services department.
The scheme will be subsidised using £10,000 of unallocated funding from a central Government grant.
However Wandsworth Labour criticised the council, saying the scheme doesn’t go far enough.
Cllr Kate Stock said: “We’re pleased that this fund will support all children with social workers, but we’re calling on the council to go further than this and support all children in the borough who are eligible for free school meals.”
Cllr Stock added that since the start of lockdown, she and her colleagues had seen a sharp rise in families “struggling to make ends meet”.
She said: “During the Covid-19 crisis Wandsworth Labour councillors have seen an extraordinary rise in families struggling to make ends meet.
“More than 5,000 local children are eligible to receive a free nutritious meal during the school term.
“For many of these families free school meals are a lifeline. “
She added: “Wandsworth Labour believes that in the fifth richest economy in the world, even in these difficult times, children should not be going hungry.
“We’re calling on Wandsworth council to ensure there is an extension of free school meals during this Christmas holiday for all children who benefit from these nutritious meals during term time.”
However Wandsworth council defended its decision.
A Wandsworth council spokesman said: “The council has already agreed a Covid-19 half term holiday food support package for vulnerable children from some the borough’s lowest income families.
“This mirrors a highly successful scheme launched at the start of the pandemic which has provided tens of thousands of supermarket food vouchers to ensure children eligible for free school meals did not go hungry during lockdown.
“Wandsworth was the first local authority in the country to get its support scheme up and running.
“We are keeping the situation under constant review and will take the necessary steps to support our most vulnerable children during the school holidays.”
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