Neil Parish, MP for Tiverton & Honiton, called on Ministers to change their policy on Free School Meals.
In an Opposition Day motion which called on the Government to extend the Free School Meal system until Easter 2021, Neil abstained to demonstrate his dissatisfaction with the Government position. Over 30 Conservative colleagues did the same.
Neil also signed a cross-party letter to the Department for Education calling on the Government to change course.
The Free School Meal programme was extended to cover school holidays when the Covid-19 pandemic started earlier this year. It provided the families of eligible children a £15 voucher to redeem at participating supermarkets each week during the holidays. It is estimated that 1.4 million children are currently eligible, although this figure is likely to rise.
Commenting after the vote, Neil said:
"When the EFRA Select Committee looked at the food supply and covid-19 earlier this year, we saw that food insecurity had spiralled and with increasing unemployment, food poverty is only likely to get worse. Food bank use has more than doubled since the start of the pandemic, despite great efforts from the Government to support families up and down the country. I appreciate the work that has gone into boosting Universal Credit by over £1000 a year, but going into winter, we need to be aware of the strain on family finances and ensure the poorest school children have a good meal. I like the food voucher scheme, because it gets food directly to the children in need. I have urged Ministers to reconsider ahead of the longer Christmas holidays and will keep up the pressure".