SHROPSHIRE Council is in talks with the county’s academies about introducing free school meals over the holidays.

Council leader Peter Nutting said there were no immediate plans to provide meals to eligible children over October half term next week, but if academies are in agreement a scheme could be introduced in time for the Christmas break.

A number of local authorities across the country have stepped in to fund free meals while schools are closed, including Telford & Wrekin Council which has extended its free breakfast scheme for youngsters who normally get free lunches in school.

But Councillor Nutting said the situation in Shropshire was more tricky due to the number of academies.

He said: “We haven’t got any exact plans at the moment. A large proportion of our schools are run by academies so we are having conversations with them.

“I need to be sure of the exact finances that this would cost because we are running a very tight budget at the moment.

“But those discussions are going on behind the scenes.”

It comes as a result of Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign for the government to extend free school meal provision for eligible families to cover the holidays, in light of the increased financial hardship many are now facing as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

He was successful in securing funding over the summer but MPs voted this week not to continue the initiative.

All Shropshire, Telford and Powys MPs voted with the government not to extend the scheme.

It has prompted other councils including those in Liverpool, Doncaster and Oldham to step in and pledge to fund free meals for eligible children themselves.

Businesses are also offering struggling parents free food for their children, including Oswestry’s Town House Bar & Brasserie and High Town Grill in Bridgnorth.

At the start of the new school year last month there were 4,883 children in Shropshire Council’s area eligible for benefits-related free school meals – up from 3,569 since September 2019.

For information about businesses providing free food to children during the half term break, go to