Suffolk’s pubs and restaurants praised for giving out free school meals
- Credit: Archant
Pub and restaurant owners across Suffolk have been praised for their help in providing free school meals to vulnerable children this half term.
Pubs, restaurants, cafes and takeaways across the county have been offering free meals – from sandwiches to curries – for children who qualify for free school meals following the controversial House of Commons vote result last week.
Their generosity has garnered widespread praise across social media, while children have also been drawing thank you messages to those providing them dinner.
Among the restaurants offering a free locally-sourced sit down meal is The Grill At Twenty5 in Ipswich, where head chef James Leamon has been cooking hot lunches for children and their parents.
Mum and owner Tina Leamon said a GoFundMe campaign to help raise money for local charities alongside the meals has raised around £1,700 since Friday.
Mrs Leamon said: “We have probably had just under 50 people come in for meals, and the response from them and the local community has been amazing.
“We were uneasy to accept donations from the public so decided to help raise money for families instead.
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“We can’t necessarily afford to do it, but we know our rights from wrong and we can afford to have our morals. To be able to do all of this and help local people, it means a lot to us.
“Everything that comes through our doors is fresh, so if we don’t have people on our seats then it is heartbreaking to throw it away – how could we ever do that when there are children out there with no food?
“At the end of the day, we just want to help people, one way or another and the children have been so happy so far.”
Jonathan Nicholson, owner of The Bell at Sax in Saxmundham, said he has been getting up early making sandwiches and cooking tray bakes for local children.
Mr Nicholson said he has been giving away around 20 lunches a day so far.
He added: “People have been lovely – it is no drama for us and it is nice for us to be able to offer something.”
Aside from pubs and restaurants, other businesses which have been offering food locally include Burger King and takeaways such as Eastern Spice in Ipswich.
Elena Staiano, general manager at The Raven pub in Ipswich, added her team are also preparing food parcels for the December holidays should families still need their help.
Miss Staiano said: “There is so much pressure on parents at Christmas for presents and cooking a Christmas dinner, so if we can take away one of those pressures by providing children their lunches, then of course we will do that.”