SERVICES to feed children during the half-term week are now up and running as civic chiefs and residents have pulled together.

Pupils across Southampton have now access to free meals from a number of restaurants in the city and to food vouchers from  Southampton City Council.

Hampshire County Council has also announced that it will provide funding to food banks and charities to support children and families this week.

The news comes as  the Government voted against footballer Marcus Rashford’s bid to have free school meals for eligible children extended through the coming holidays.

Civic chiefs in Southampton have now set up a helpline to support families and deliver food vouchers.

A number of restaurants in the city have also started delivering free meals to children. 

Masterchef winner Shelina Permalloo, which owns Lakaz Maman in Bedford Place, said her restaurant prepared 100 meals today.

She added: "There is no way we would ignore the fact that there would be kids in Southampton not having access to a meal during the half term without a school meal. It's a basic human right."

Southampton City Council has also launched a new website where parents can find all services available as well as a list of the Southampton businesses who have offered to provide free meals this week.

Meanwhile, Hampshire County Council said it will grant some funding to local food banks and charities.

Further details, including the names of the organisation and the amount of money they will receive,  are yet to be revealed.

But Cllr Keith Mans, council leader, said: "It’s obviously not possible to introduce a ‘voucher scheme’ ourselves for this half-term, but it is my intention that Hampshire will provide the same level of support for the half term break that would have otherwise been provided through the Government’s previous voucher scheme, by targeting support to those families in real need via food banks, charities and other relevant organisations."

He said he will write to the Secretary of State and Hampshire MPs to press for  a long-term strategy to cover the Christmas and Easter school holidays. 

The news comes as Liberal Democrats councillors urged county bosses to provide support to children this week.

Cllr Keith House, leader of the opposition at the county council, said: "It is good that Hampshire County Council has started to move on this and finally accept some sense of responsibility.  It shouldn’t have to take last-minute embarrassed reaction after pressure from Marcus Rashford, local parents and Lib Dem councillors.  There is something desperately wrong in the 21st century in a well-off country that many residents have to rely on food vouchers and food banks.”

Alan Dowden, county councillor for Baddesley, pledged to give a grant to the Romsey and North Baddesley food bank.

For more details about the services in Southampton visit

For the helpline call 023 8083 4800. It is open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5pm.