MPs removed from anti-poverty charity’s board over free school meals vote

Joe Lepper
Thursday, October 29, 2020

Feeding Britain has removed MPs from its board after one of its trustees voted against extending free school meals to children from low-income families out of term time.

Conservative MP Jo Gideon voted against the motion. Picture: Parliament UK
Conservative MP Jo Gideon voted against the motion. Picture: Parliament UK

The Labour Party motion has been publically championed by Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford and a number of charities, including Feeding Britain. However, it was defeated 321 to 261 last week, following the government’s opposition to the move.

After one of its trustees, Conservative MP Jo Gideon, voted against the motion, Feeding Britain overhauled its structure to remove all MPs from its trustee roles.

This also includes MPs that backed the motion, Labour MPs Liz Kendall and former shadow children’s minister Emma Lewell-Buck as well as Scottish National Party MP Chris Stephens.

A petition with more than 1,000 signatures had also been launched calling for the removal of Gideon, who is MP for Stoke on Trent Central, from the charity’s board.

The charity has announced it is to create a separate cross-party parliamentary council of MPs and peers and no longer allow MPs to be trustees.

Feeding Britain said it had “decided to proceed with the creation of two separate bodies: a cross-party parliamentary council of MPs and peers to deploy the findings of Feeding Britain’s work in pursuit of systemic change that will eliminate hunger and its root causes; and the charity itself which will no longer have MPs on its board of trustees”.

The charity added: “Membership of the parliamentary council will be built up in the weeks ahead.”

Meanwhile, a petition set-up by Rashford calling for the government to extend free school meals out of term time, has been signed by more than one million people.

More than 20 charities and food industry groups, which are part of Rashford’s Child Food Poverty Task Force, are calling on the government to extend free school meals, improve families' holiday support and help for partents with pre-school age children in receipt of universal credit.

Anna Taylor, executive director of one of the charities involved, the Food Foundation, said: “The petition shows just how many citizens want a lasting solution to child hunger. The government must act without delay."

The Food Foundation’s Right2Food campaign involves young food ambassadors in tackling food poverty in the UK.

“We have Marcus Rashford and one million people standing together demanding change,” said 15-year-old Right2Food young food ambassador Dev Sharma.

“Young people deserve access to a healthy and affordable diet all year around regardless of where they live or what background they come from.”

 

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