SHOPS across the borough have been offering free school meals to children during the half term following the government’s decision to halt the vouchers.

Throughout next week, a number of Barnsley shop owners have announced they will provide a free meal to those who are usually entitled to free meals.

This comes after Penistone and Stocksbridge MP, Miriam Cates, was the only Barnsley MP to vote against the proposed plans to give out vouchers to struggling families earlier this week.

Businesses including Bridge End Fisheries in Penistone, Tankersley Manor, BARiSTA in Penistone, and The Snug Eating House in Grimethorpe and Stairfoot Subway - to name a few- have pledged to provide free meals throughout half term.

Julie Taylor, one of the owners at Bridge End Fisheries, will prepare children’s meals including sausage and chips or fish-cakes every weekday from 11am until 2pm.

She said: “I feel let down by the government and my local MP who I feel has let the children of Penistone down.

“It shouldn’t be left to us residents to pick up the pieces, but because of this decision we knew we had to help in any way we could.

“We’re in a fortunate position, but some others aren’t as lucky. It’s more important now than ever that we all come together.”

Sunil Mehan, owner of Subway at Stairfoot, has organised for vouchers to be sent out to anyone who applies for them in the hopes that it will encourage people to ask for help.

“I think there is a stigma around asking for help,” said Sunil. “We don’t want people to feel embarrassed that’s why we have set up the system where they can email and we will send them a voucher to be used within our store.

“We know that the holidays put a lot of pressure on parents and we want to help in anyway we can - and if that’s knowing where at least one meal will come from then we are happy to help in any way we can.

“Kids deserve to be fed and we don’t think that’s a political statement.”