Businesses across the borough have launched their own Marcus Rashford-inspired campaigns to ensure no child goes hungry over half term - after MPs rejected extending free school meals.

On Wednesday MPs voted against the Labour motion to offer free school meals during holidays until East 2021 by 322 votes to 261.

In the summer Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford led a successful campaign for free school meal vouchers during the holidays which saw the government U-turn their decision.

Now the footballer has backed businesses across the country offering free meals for children over half term, including Bolton's own Baker's Coffee Shop and Restaurant.

Owner Angela Baker said: "Obviously it's all been in the news and being in hospitality we know how hard things are at the moment. We understand how much of a struggle things are and that people are losing their jobs and livelihoods.

"We are in a position where we can do something, I worked in teaching for 15 years before setting up Baker's. I have lived and breathed it, I know the struggle is real.

"We want to help where we can so we set up a plan of making grab bags each morning, we Tweeted it and our social media just went wild.

"Marcus Rashford himself retweeted us, and we even had comments from celebrities such as Helen Flanagan, it was just amazing.

"I even set up a Just Giving page last night and in less than 12 hours it's nearly at the £1,000 target.

"I'm planning on contacting other businesses to see how we can cover more of Bolton, and if the donations continue we could carry this on at Christmas.

"I try not to get involved with the politics but we did see that huge U-turn in the summer, I'm hoping that they will see the need for this and understand the gravity of the situation."

Similarly Italian restaurant Rosa in Westhoughton are setting up their own project. Co-owner Paul Aspin said: "We'd always planned on doing a free meal promotion over half term but when we saw all the Marcus Rashford news we decided to take it one step further.

"The plan is to deliver meals to local houses in the area and we will also be running a foodbank in our horsebox which people can donate to.

"We'll be setting up a contact number so people can get in touch if they need help, it will be completely discreet and we will drop off three meals at a time.

"It's out of order that the Government have kicked it back and don't think it's an issue. If we can help in any way we will, it's not a massive amount of money for us to do this.

"You never know what can happen, we're trying to survive and we're helping others to do the same."

Greek restaurant The Kitchen in Westhoughton will also be offering free packed lunches. Co-owner Nicki Gillon said: "Our chefs came up with the idea because lots of them have children, the thing is this time around there will be so many parents who've lost their jobs.

"People have been hit hard, this is nothing for us but for someone who needs it it will mean everything.

"It feels very much that it's us against them right now, I'm just so angry, but I'm hoping we can feed as many people as we can."

Bolton Wanderers have also joined the effort and will be offering a free meal to kids who are entitled to during half term, which needs to be booked in advance.

The Club said: "No child should go hungry. Bolton Whites Hotel will provide meals to any children who are entitled to free school meals in Bolton during half term. Call 01204 673610 for more information."

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