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Kent businesses offer free meals for children

As half term started on Monday, many local businesses in Kent joined in effort to help out the families in need.

The Dead Pigeon Pub, a 2-year-old pub run by two best friends in Rochester, is handing out free pizzas for kids from 12 to 2pm.

Children can choose from the three different kinds of pizza on the menu while also getting a drink.

Jamie Clark (right) with his business partner

The pub’s owner, Jamie Clark, 32, said he and his business partner Tom were inspired by the campaign led by Marcus Rashford on Twitter and felt like “no one should worry about going hungry”.

After deciding to help last Friday, the two were up at the suppliers at about 10am on the first day of the half term holiday and started preparing pizzas at around 11am.

Around 25 people, among them toddles and teenagers aged 15, came on the first day.

Mr Clark said it felt really great when handing out pizzas to the families, “It’s really nice to meet people who came down. It’s good to hear their story and it’s just nice to try and help people, it’s nice we could.”

He said that he hoped these children could access a meal all year round, “just facing to parents today, there is hundreds and hundreds of different circumstances as to why the children need these free meals.

“No one should ever be judged on the fact that the child needs these vouchers, and no one should ever not be able to receive them.”

The business has been fortunate as to not being hit hard by the Coronavirus because of the takeaway service they offered during lockdown.

When lockdown was over they were even able to offer more jobs, which made their decision to help the families in need easier.

“If we couldn’t offer it we wouldn’t have done it, or we would’ve done donations. Loads of people ask to do donations and we just sent them to charitable causes that do need donation, do need money.

“We’ve been quite lucky we have got quite good support from our community. They use our service, and we are in a position where we can do it luckily. So rather than just sit on the fence and do nothing, because we could do something we felt we had to,” said the owner.

Gingerbreads Snacks Bar, a family-run business in Herne Bay, received a sea of donations on the first day of offering free meals to struggled families.

Emma Webb, 44, one of the owners of the business, said £200 cash was donated to them on the first day.

Emma Webb preparing packed lunches

Ms Webb said the first day of providing free meals was “crazy and went really well”.

“We had so many donations coming in, food crisps snacks, bread ham, crepes. So many offers of help, their time.”

The amount of donations received on Monday

The word got around thanks to their post on Facebook which has been widely shared and commented on.

Despite the huge amount of food supplies, only 15 lunch boxes were collected on the first day.

Ms Webb said parents were too embarrassed to come into the store but she hoped they did not feel that way.

“Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed, I’ve got loads of food here if they don’t come and collect it, it will just go rotten so come and collect it. No questions will be asked, just come and get some food if you need some food,” she said.

“The grab station”

The children that came were aged between 2 and 12 and the parents were “really thankful”.

But Ms Webb said people did not have to thank her, “I’m just putting food together in parcels. And I am just a point where people can come and collect everything they’ve donated. It’s my pleasure really, to do it.”

The business will continue to help during the Christmas holiday.

The King Charles Hotel, a family run business in Medway, said their decision to help was prompted by an article by the Medway council that announced children would be able to have free school meals throughout the holiday.

Rebecca Degiorgio, a spokesperson of the hotel, said this was a burden they were willing to surfer.

“Nobody wants a child to go hungry it is an absolutely horrible thought, so if there is anything that can be done to help, then definitely would want to do that.

The hotel now provides a packed lunch consisting of a sandwich, piece of fruit, crisps, chocolate bar and drink.

Those in need to phone the business the night before and will be able to collect the food from the hotel from 11am to 1pm the next day.

Despite no uptake on the first day it is hoped that more people could contact the hotel and arrange it.

Donations are welcomed and surplus will go to the local food bank charity.

Currently about 6,000 children in Medway access school meals during term time, according to the Medway Council website.



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