Food poverty charity removes MP trustees following free school meals vote

A food poverty charity has restructured its governance arrangements to remove MPs from its board of trustees.

Feeding Britain has made the move after one of its MP trustees, Conservative Jo Gideon, voted against Labour’s motion last week to extend free school meal vouchers to disadvantaged children out of term time amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The motion was defeated by 321 to 261.

More than 1,000 people had signed a petition calling for Gideon to be removed as a trustee from Feeding Britain.

The charity has now restructured into two separate bodies. This sees its political supporters involved in a cross-party parliamentary council of MPs and peers. Meanwhile, the charity itself will no longer have MPs as trustees.

The move affects Gideon as well as fellow parliamentary trustees for the charity: Labour MPs Liz Kendall and Emma Lewell Buck, and Scottish National Party MP Chris Stephens.

The charity said that 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.

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

One million signatures

The campaign to tackle food poverty among disadvantaged families out of term time has been spearheaded by the Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford and backed by a number of food bank and anti-poverty charities.

A petition on the government for action has now reached one million signatures.

This calls for the extension of eligibility of free school meals, an extension of the Holiday Activity and Food Programme, so that support for children eligible for free school meals during summer is extended. In addition the petition calls for improved support for low- income parents of young children.

Anna Taylor, executive director of one of the charities involved in promoting the petition, the Food Foundation said: “The petition shows just how many citizens want a lasting solution to child hunger.

“The government must act without delay and implement the three recommendations in the National Food Strategy”.

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