A £125,000 scheme has been set up to help families in need during the school holidays - after a high-profile national campaign led by football star Marcus Rashford.

Somerset County Council has issued a plea for families in need of urgent food supplies to contact the Coronavirus helpline - and confirmed it is stepping up its efforts to provide more school holiday support with a £125,000 scheme.

At the same time, the council said it was continuing to lobby government for further funding.

Currently, the council works alongside community organisations and businesses to provide much needed meals and food for families most at need.

But families who are struggling can contact the Coronavirus helpline - 0300 790 6275 - run by all councils in Somerset, to ask for support.

And with demand likely to increase ahead of school holidays, Christmas and throughout the winter, Somerset County Council is spending a further £125,000 to provide crucial meals and funding across the county.

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This will see school caterers expected to produce 26,000 meals by Christmas, and partners Fareshare hoping to bring 140 tonnes of food to supplement Somerset’s brilliant community groups and food banks.

“I am so glad we have had the foresight to prepare for the really significant challenge to come this winter and that is where are efforts will continue to be made,” said leader of Somerset County Council David Fothergill.

“We have a strong and sustainable plan in place that will help many thousands of children get the food they need, when they need it.

"I am determined that this council will do all it can to prevent children going hungry through this very challenging Christmas and winter period.

"And that plan has the backing and support of our amazing community groups – and also business leaders in Somerset. I can’t thank them enough for stepping up in crucial time for our children.” 

The move comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Government is under increasing pressure to provide the free school meals during the upcoming holidays, as the coronavirus crisis continues.

Last week, Somerset MPs joined their Conservative colleagues in voting down a motion which would have seen the scheme continue.

That has drawn criticism from many, including Premier League star Rashford, who has led a campaign to help struggling families feed their children.

And Cllr Fothergill called for more financial support from Westminster.

“We are already lobbying government to increase this level of funding," he said.

"It is an issue that has been raised and I am sure government are looking closely at helping counties like our own."