An open letter to the Isle of Wight council (IWC) leader, Dave Stewart, has been published in the form of a petition, calling on the council to commit to fund free school meals (FSM) in school holidays.
The petition launched today was set up by a group of friends who say that in light of the contradictory statements from some Cabinet members – Cllr Paul Brading said he could not make any more cuts from his budget and suggested football players should give some of their salaries up (which appeared in the County Press) – they’ve penned this open letter asking for clarification on what the council plan to do, how, and when.
The Open Letter
The Open Letter/Petition reads:
Dear Councillor Dave Stewart and all Council members,
OPEN LETTER CONCERNING: FREE SCHOOL MEALS DURING SCHOOL HOLIDAYS
Councillor Stewart was quoted in the County Press on 26th October as saying “I am sure we will be able to find more money if required. I do not want any Island child to go hungry…”
In light of recent internal comments coming into the public domain, we are writing to you today for firm clarification, as an entire representative body, that you are dedicated to providing Free School Meals, during school holidays, to those in need during this global pandemic. We want:
- Clear commitment as an organisation on your position going forward
- Clear and accessible information detailing each and every avenue of support the council can offer
- A detailed public statement outlining your commitment
As figures on the Isle of Wight website state, 32.7% of children on the Isle of Wight are living in poverty. This is among the highest rates in the south of England and above the national average of 30%. This equates to nearly 10,000 children who may go hungry if sufficient measures aren’t put in place immediately.
We await your detailed response.
If you wish to add your name to the Open Letter/petition you can do so on the Change.org Website.
What the IWC say
On Monday afternoon Cllr Stewart said, “the Isle of Wight Council remains committed to ensuring all Island children and families in need of vital food support, both during school holidays and at other times, get access to all possible available help”.
The council have committed extra money to the ‘Help Through Crisis’ scheme which is operating to provide crucial help to those struggling to afford food and other essentials during the pandemic.
Cllr Stewart said,
“I am sure we will be able to find more money if required. I do not want any Island child to go hungry.”
How to seek help
Cllr Stewart urged any affected families to contact Citizen’s Advice IW (which manages the programme) on 823859 or through the Website.