Portsmouth free meal group set up after government vote down free school holiday meals

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A SOCIAL media group has been set up to connect people in need of a meal with those happy to cook it for free.

A Free My Meal Portsmouth group has been set up by Claire Udy to help those in need after the government voted on Wednesday not to extend free school meals across school holidays until next Easter.

Labour MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, voted in favour – while the Conservative MPs for Portsmouth North, Fareham, Havant, and Gosport all voted against the motion.

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It came after Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford started a petition urging the government to end child food poverty.

Claire said: ‘I was sickened by the vote and I wanted to do something so I started trying to get a network of people together who would be happy to cook free meals.

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‘I was pointed in the direction of Free My Meal which has groups in lots of places and I spoke to the founder Hayley.

‘They have all rules on the group in place about people posting all the hygiene and food safety things with their post and about getting the food and keeping to social distancing restrictions.

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A plate of pastaA plate of pasta
A plate of pasta

‘I hope people join the group and can offer spare meals or get meals if they need it.’

The Free My Meal idea was founded in August by Hayley Steere and she has since helped more than 25 groups open across the world.

She said: ‘In the nine weeks since we started connecting recipients with willing cooks who can provide a meal it has been a journey, one I never though would been so incredible yet terribly tragic all at the same time.

Claire UdyClaire Udy
Claire Udy

‘After the announcement regarding MPs voting against free meals for kids in the holidays, #freemymeal was the number two worldwide twitter trend.

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‘It just goes to show there is a huge need and that the time to help each other is now; no questions, no faffing, no discrimination, no hoops.

There has been outcry since the vote and businesses and councils across the country have been coming forward to offer free school meals over half term next week including charity Jacobs Well in Gosport, which is offering packed lunches for children every day next week between 1pm and 2pm.

To sign up as a cook or recipient visit facebook.com/groups/freemymealportsmouth

For more information visit freemymeal.co.uk/

If your business or organisation is offering free meals please email [email protected] to be added to our list that will be shared online and in the paper.

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