Little Bao Boy offers free food for Leeds children during October half term as MPs vote against free school meals over holidays

Another restaurant in Leeds has stepped in to offer free meals for local children during the half term.

By Abbey Maclure
Friday, 23rd October 2020, 1:17 pm

Little Bao Boy, an Asian street food vendor, is offering a free bao bun and fries for children under 16 after MPs voted against Marcus Rashford’s bid to extend free school meals over the holidays.

Labour’s motion, which called for the scheme to be extended over school holidays until Easter 2021, was defeated by 261 votes to 322 – majority 61 - on Wednesday, October 21.

Following the vote, Manchester United forward Rashford vowed to continue campaigning, writing on Twitter: “For as long as they don’t have a voice, they will have mine.”

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Children under 16 can get a free bao bun and fries over the holidays

Little Bao Boy is the one of hundreds of businesses across the country which have since stepped in to offer free meals for children over the holidays.

Children under 16 can visit the vendor at North Brewing Co Taproom, in Sovereign Square, between 3pm and 4.30pm during half term to collect a meal.

Announcing the news on Instagram, Little Bao Boy owner James Ooi said: "When I grew up I went to a school which had loads of different people from loads of different backgrounds.

"At one point non school uniform days were stopped because some of the pupils came from family situations which meant they could only really afford their uniform for their children.

"We are in a position this half term where we can do our bit and help and by God we are going to!

"Obviously hospitality has taken a hit during all this but so has everyone and it isn't fair that young children pay the price.

"Come on down during half term and we will sort you with some bao and fries, it's the least we can do."

Five of Leeds' eight MPs voted for the motion including; Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn, Leeds East MP Richard Burgon, Leeds North East MP Fabian Hamilton, Leeds North West MP Alex Sobel and Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves.

Morley and Outwood MP Andrea Jenkyns, Elmet and Rothwell MP Alec Shelbrooke and Pudsey MP Stuart Andrew voted against the motion.

Hilary Benn, who represents Leeds Central, said the outcome was "absolutely shameful" but the public support for the campaign would drive it forwards.

He said: "It was absolutely shameful of the Tories to vote against free school meals being provided over the holidays. How on earth can they justify it?

"Boris Johnson now needs to explain to 25,000 children from low income families in our city why they won’t be getting the help that would make such a difference to them and to their parents at time when many families are struggling?

"We won't, however, be giving up. There is huge public support for this campaign."

Rachel Reeves, MP for Leeds West added that "sink-or-swim" plans for support could leave more than one million children at risk of going hungry over the school holidays and urged the Prime Minister to re-think.