steve murrells

Murrells said the need for free school meals was “more serious for families now than it was in the summer ”

Co-op boss Steve Murrells has urged prime minister Boris Johnson to reconsider his position on free school meals for eligible children throughout half term.

Murrells has today penned an open letter to Johnson after the PM rejected a plea, spearheaded by Manchester United star Marcus Rashford, to intervene to ensure children eligible for government-funded free school meals do not go hungry during a one or possible two-week ‘circuit breaker’ half term.

The government refused yesterday to extend the summer holiday meal vouchers scheme into half term, claiming the country “is in a different position now”.

“We simply cannot let any child go hungry as a result of this pandemic” said Murrells in the letter. “As the chief executive of a leading business with its roots in the north, I can see at first hand the acute challenges faced by vulnerable children and their families.


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“The need faced is more serious for families now than it was in the summer – jobs have been lost and whatever savings families had have long gone. As a nation we must step in and provide support to the communities who most need it.”

He added: “There are more than 1.4 million children in England alone who are in desperate need of support this half term – the fact that the Co-op support can only reach 5,000 deeply concerns me. I urge you to reconsider the government’s position and ensure that this half term – and whenever a school is shut – vulnerable families can afford to feed their children.”

The Co-op is encouraging colleagues and members to write to their MP, urging the government to change course and fund meals for all eligible students.