Footballer Marcus Rashford’s name has been all over the headlines recently. Mostly, it’s had nothing to do with scoring goals or winning games. If you live in the UK, you’re likely already aware of the sportsman’s campaign. He has been trying to persuade the government to offer free meals to every vulnerable child in England over the school holidays.
The amount of free school meal applications for children has quadrupled this year compared with 2019.
All other UK nations have agreed to provide free lunches during the holidays to those who would have had them at school. But all was not lost in England. During this half-term break, a number of businesses across the country stepped up to feed children instead.
Earlier this week, Rashford told Newsnight: “Even at their lowest point, having felt the devastating effects of the pandemic, local businesses have wrapped arms around their communities today, catching vulnerable children as they fell.”
He added: “I couldn’t be more proud to call myself British tonight.”
Before the kids go back to school, here are just a handful of the vegan businesses to celebrate this weekend that stepped up to help families in need.
5 Vegan Businesses Stepping Up to Feed Kids
1. Forest Green Rovers
Vegan football club Forest Green Rovers, owned by environmentalist and entrepreneur Dale Vince, aims to bring together “football and environmental consciousness.”
It also invests deeply in the community. Last weekend, the club announced it would hand out 100 free plant-based meals to children in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, over the course of half term.
This isn’t an isolated case for the football club. In August, it worked closely with local organizations to distribute 600 free vegan meals to vulnerable people and families in the Nailsworth area. All were prepared by the team’s head chef Jade Crawford.
The Forest Green Rovers Community initiative has identified three main pillars of need throughout the pandemic—food poverty, loneliness, and online engagement for local children—and is consistently working to provide support in these areas.
2. Temple of Seitan
London-based vegan fried chicken chain Temple of Seitan offered free chicken and chips to vulnerable children all week. It posted on Instagram that it was “inspired” by Rashford and “everyone working to maintain free school meals over the holidays.”
Temple of Seitan serves four locations in London: Hackney, Camden, Wood Green, and Waterloo.
Its menu consists of a variety of plant-based fast-food options, including fried chicken “wings” and popcorn bites. Check out Temple of Seitan here.
3. By Chloe
International vegan restaurant chain By Chloe has three locations in London: Tower Bridge, Covent Garden, and Oxford Circus.
The chain revealed on Instagram last weekend that it would provide all children who need it with a free lunch throughout half term and future school holidays. It noted in the post: “If you are in need, just come by with your relevant form of proof + Photo ID and we will support you.”
Not content with just offering the free meals, By Chloe also revealed it has started adding stickers to its takeaway bags to encourage others to support Rashford’s campaign.
The chain also urged followers to sign the footballer’s petition to end child food poverty, which now has more than one million signatures. (Find the petition here).
Check out By Chloe here.
4. Neat Burger
At the beginning of the week, Lewis Hamilton-backed vegan fast-food chain Neat Burger launched its new Kids Eat Free scheme, which will run through until Nov 1.
It posted on Instagram: “At Neat Burger, we believe in investing in the future together. That’s why this half-term we are supporting [Marcus Rashford] and launching our ‘KIDS EAT FREE’ scheme, to help any parents struggling this half term.”
It’s not the first time the burger joint has given away free food to help the community. Back in April, it partnered with Deliveroo to deliver free vegan meals to NHS workers.
Neat Burger is located on Princes Street and Camden, London. Check it out here.
5. Made in Hackney
Since the beginning of the pandemic, vegan community kitchen Made in Hackney has delivered free meals to vulnerable people. It has set up an Emergency Food Service landing page on its website, where people can refer themselves or others for free meals. The kitchen has pledged to sustain the service, which is funded via Crowdfunder, until the end of March 2021.
In response to the government’s ruling, Made in Hackney added extra children’s lunches to its community meal packages throughout half term.
The kitchen posted on Instagram: “No child should ever go hungry. But sadly, we know thousands do. Massive gratitude and respect to everyone across the UK who’s pitching in this week to help feed kids this half term.”
To support the kitchen’s Crowdfunder, see here.
Throughout this week and during the lockdown, so many businesses, restaurants, and organizations have stepped up to help feed vulnerable children and families across England. Despite their own struggles due to the ongoing pandemic, many will continue to do so over the coming months, too.
Rashford’s campaign is still gaining momentum, with large corporations also getting involved. On Thursday, Deliveroo announced a partnership with a number of businesses and organizations, including the Co-Op and Pret a Manger, to deliver thousands of free meals to vulnerable families across the UK.
To keep up to date with Rashford and the latest developments in his campaign, find him on Twitter here.