Local News

UPDATE: Free School Meals

Hope has been given to many low-income families amidst the ongoing quarrel over providing free school meals over half-term.

Last week’s vote in parliament not to provide free school meals for low-income families during the holidays has seen many people and organisations in Andover coming to the rescue.

The controversial vote has caused a painful backlash against MPs like local MP Kit Malthouse who voted against the motion.

The Tory MP for north west Hampshire was described online as a ‘pig’ by musician Professor Green.  The British rapper also claimed the vote was ‘inhumane’, further citing Mr Malthouse’s acceptance of an above inflation pay rise.

Home Office minister Mr Malthouse also said that those on low income should make use the existing welfare system.  At the time of writing it appears Mr Malthouse’s Facebook profile has been temporarily disabled.

Hampshire County Council confirmed last week that it would not provide free school meals over this half-term.

It is thought that Test Valley Borough Council may be due to announce a £20,000 fund to help families who are struggling.  However, the initial storm of dissent sparked many local businesses and business owners in Andover to act quickly as part of a campaign called ‘No Child Goes Hungry’.

Local fitness instructor Andy Lavery launched a campaign on Friday, asking friends to donate £200 “if they can afford it”.  Hoping to raise £2,000, within six hours the owner of Dawn Breakers in Andover raised £4,300.

To date he has raised almost £8,000 to provide school meals for low income families.  “We raised around £7,700 in 24 hours, and put food on the tables of nearly 100 households.

“I’d say that’s a job well done,” said Mr Lavery.

Café Bridge on Bridge Street started a ‘Pay It Forward’ campaign last week where customers can donate to help struggling families.

Additionally, Saturday’s Andover Town home football match against Hythe and Dibden saw players and visitors donate food for the Andover Foodbank.

Andover Foodbank donations Andover Town FC
Andover Town FC donations

A number of local pubs like The Anton Arms and The Queen Charlotte Inn have also offered to help.  The Anton Arms said, “For every adult meal purchased you have the opportunity to purchase a kid’s meal for £1 which can be boxed to takeaway or be donated to children that need it.”

The Queen Charlotte Inn on London Road has arranged for 10 free hot meals each weekday from 12:00pm to 1:00pm.

Despite these acts of kindness, publicans have reacted with anger to Conservative MP Selaine Saxby’s online post. The North Devon MP said, “I am delighted our local businesses have bounced back so much after lockdown they are able to give away food for free, and very much hope they will not be seeking any further government support.”

Selaine Saxby Social Post

It’s believed that Test Valley Borough Council’s offer of £20,000 to support families comes from a government fund to help people who will struggle over the winter because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.  Organisations like the Andover Foodbank and the Yellow Brick Road Project are thought to be beneficiaries of the £89,000 pot of money given to the council.


Andover Foodbank: Visit their website here for further details.

Local Community Pantry: The YMCA community cupboard can be found here

Cafe Bridge, Andover: They are running a “Pay it Forward” scheme.  Further details about that can be read here.

Andy Lavery: Find him on Facebook here

Andover Aesthetics: Donna Jackson has £30 vouchers to help struggling families. Her number is 07824709598.

The Queen Charlotte, Andover: Monday – Friday between 12 – 1pm there are 10 free children’s meals each day. Call 01264 748946 for details.

Flaming June Catering: Throughout half term they will be delivering packed lunches to any child that needs them, no questions asked. Find them here.

The Anton Arms: For every adult meal purchased you have the opportunity to purchase a kids meal for £1.

Baguette de Moet: Each day during this half term they are offering 20 half sized baguettes (filled with either Tuna Mayo or Ham & Cheese) for any child in need aged 12 & under.

White Hart Hotel Andover: The Bridge Street pub and hotel are making up free healthy packed lunches, for those who need them. Please email whitehart.andover@marstons.co.uk

The Pheasant Highclere: 30 food boxes thanks to Thatcham Butchers and Chefs Delight are available, please email landlord@thepheasanthighclere.co.uk or Find them here.

John Mcnab: This local man has put £800 into a kitty. He’s hoping to help 20 families. If you could benefit, in confidence, message John privately on Facebook.

NISA on Weyhill Road: Punit Patel is offering free packed lunches for children aged 12 and under on Tuesday 27/10/2020 and Thursday.

If you are in need please contact us by tomorrow evening you can message us on Facebook messenger.

Nisa local, 80 weyhill road, Andover, SP10 3NP

If you, or you know of anyone offering assistance, please contact us: hello@loveandover.com

About the author

David Harber

David Harber is the founder and Managing Director of Love Andover, including the Love Andover Observer newspaper and 95.9FM Andover Radio. He is a fellow at the Royal Society of Arts and a card carrying member of the Nation Union of Journalists.