A BROMSGROVE restaurant has jumped at the chance to provide free meals for children - after MPs controversially voted against an extension of the scheme in Parliament this week.

Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford led a campaign for the free meals scheme to be extended over the half-term holiday but the majority of Conservative MPs voted against it.

So when Waz's Bistrot, a Mediterranean restaurant on The Strand in Bromsgrove town centre, was asked to help needy children out, they leapt at the chance.

Marion Bennett, who operates the front of house at the eatery, said she had seen an appeal on Facebook from charity South Birmingham Lunches for food establishments to provide up to 40 meals.

Waz's went one better, cooking up 41 meal bags including pasta, fruit and a drink, to help keep youngsters from going hungry during the school break.

Marion said: "I'm all for it. The fact Marcus Rashford has been supporting so many children from underprivileged backgrounds, like I came from and he came from, is amazing. These people are without a voice."

But, like many Advertiser readers, she was unhappy that Bromsgrove MP Sajid Javid was one of the Conservative politicians to vote against the free meals scheme in the House of Commons.

"He voted against free school meals but voted for MPs getting a pay rise," she added.

The Advertiser has contacted Mr Javid's office to request the reasoning behind his vote. As of time of going to press, we have not received a response.

The vote has drawn criticism from Liberal Democrats in Bromsgrove, who feel the poorest children should be given meal vouchers during the school holidays.

Councillor Siobhan Hughes said: “As a teacher I see first-hand the real problems our children are facing.

"Our schools are working around the clock to support the most vulnerable children whilst at school but I really worry for when school holidays come.

"I would urge our MP Sajid Javid to listen to local residents demands and change his position on this. Let’s make sure no child goes hungry this Christmas."

Dr David Nicholl, the Lib Dem candidate for Bromsgrove in last year's General Election, quoted the study by End Child Poverty that found that 22% of Bromsgrove children were living in poverty in May 2019. In addition, The Trussell Trust reported a 20% increase in 3-day emergency parcels for Bromsgrove provided between April and September 2019 compared to the previous year.

He said: “These were really concerning figures before the pandemic; we know for sure that now there are even more families struggling to make ends meet due to the effects of Covid-19.

"Our MP stood for election on a manifesto of “levelling up” and yet votes against providing a basic essential to the most vulnerable in our society."