South Holland companies and groups have been helping feed youngsters this half term after MPs voted not to fund school meals during the half term and at Christmas.
One business owner said she served 75 free meals in the first two days of the campaign inspired by Manchester United and England striker Marcus Rashford.
He campaigned to extend the free school meals during holidays during the current COVID-19 pandemic, but last week MPs, including South Holland and the Deeping MP Sir John Hayes voted against it.
Sir John told The Voice that he was a supporter of free school meals but that funding them during holidays did not help families that needed them in rural areas.
“I believe it’s best to get the money direct to the families,” he said. “Many of those in the greatest need are in rural areas away from the school and the best way to get the support is directly.
“I will continue to personally support initiatives that help the most vulnerable, particularly during this COVID crisis. I’m happy for people to get in touch if they require support.”
Families can contact Sir John Hayes’s constituency office on 01775 711534.
Around 14 per cent of secondary school pupils in the East Midlands were eligible for such meals in the 2019/20 academic year, according to the Department for Education.
Pinchbeck United Football Club and a number of local food businesses have instead offered meals.
The football club is offering football sessions alongside its kitchen being open.
The companies include A Country Kitchen, a large part of whose business includes providing school meals.
Kelly Newman, who runs the firm, would normally have half term off but after offering the free meals, on Monday and Tuesday she’d already handed out 75 meals.
She said: “I was unsure as to how many to expect to be honest – obviously I’m a school meal supplier in the local area and so understand and know roughly how many children are eligible for free school meals per day in my schools. Contrary to most people’s perception, the number eligible is not that high in most schools.
“Obviously this fluctuates dependent on the area of the school but generally you are only talking approx ten children per day in most schools are awarded free school meals.”
Other businesses who are offering meals include the Spice Market Food and Health, Joe’s Takeaway and Chip Shop, Oh My Cod! all in Spalding, Eastern Delight in Holbeach.