A peaceful protest was held outside the office of a Cornish MP this morning against their decision to vote against extending free school meals into school holidays.

A number of people gathered outside Cherilyn Mackrory’s office in Truro to leave empty plates, many of which were daubed with comments.

The event – which was called an End to Child Poverty protest – followed other similar protests held outside MPs’ offices in the last week.

It follows a vote in the House of Commons last week on a motion put forward by the Labour Party calling on the Government to provide support for free school meals during the half term and Christmas holidays.

The vote prompted a campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford to feed hungry children which saw businesses across Cornwall being praised for their response.


Cornwall praised over free food as council vows to feed children over Christmas

However the motion was voted down with all six of Cornwall’s Conservative MPs voting against the call.

Alex Falconer, who organised today’s protest in Truro, said that he wanted to ensure people continued to talk about the issue of food poverty and children needing help.

He said that he thought it was “inhumane” for people to vote against providing extra support for free school meals during holidays.

He said: “Clearly it is a national thing and people are pretty shocked that we are in this situation.”

And he said that placing empty plates outside the MP’s office was “a nice simple metaphor that so many children are going hungry”.

He said that he hoped that the pressure which was being placed on the Government around the issue could lead to change.

Alex said: “It is hugely important in this day and age that we help children, it helps with their health, their self-esteem, I don’t really see what the arguments against it are.

“People are giving abstract figures about what they are doing but if those figures are going in then it clearly isn’t working as we wouldn’t have more than four million people living in poverty.”

Another protester at the event said she was “horrified” by the decision of Cornwall’s MPs to vote against the motion.

She said she didn’t understand how the Government “can’t find a relatively small amount of money to make sure that children all over the UK and here in Cornwall will not go hungry during the holidays”.

Mrs Mackrory last week defended her decision to vote against the motion saying: “I voted against the motion because the government already has significant measures in place to support vulnerable families.

“The best way of ensuring that families are supported financially is by ensuring that we have a welfare system that works for everyone in this country. It is not right for schools or the education system to become part of the welfare state in the way that this motion demanded. The welfare state is there to protect families, the education system is there to educate our children.

“What we need to be doing, therefore, is ensuring that parents have enough support from the welfare state in order to be able to support their children throughout the school holidays, when they are at home and away from education.”

She added: “Free school meals have never been provided to families during school holidays, indeed it was this Conservative Government that set that precedent earlier this year, during the summer holidays, because of the exceptional circumstances the whole country was facing. No Labour Government has ever provided this for our children, nor did Labour ever support families the way this government is.

“Help and support is always available to those who need it and I am more than happy to help those in need.”