MORE than 300 meals will be provided to hungry children in Dudley in a bid to tackle holiday hunger.

The scheme, called The Holiday Cafe, has seen business, politicians and charities team up to ensure no child in the town goes hungry over the long school summer holiday.

The project saw 90 meals served to youngsters in the first ten days, where tokens are given to families for them to hand in to participating cafes in the town in exchange for a children's hot meal and drink.

Councillor Cathy Bayton, who is part of a the Friends of Grange Park which co-ordinates the project, said: "We trialled this at Easter and it was huge success so we decided to roll it out on a larger scale, but without the fantastic support of local businesses, The Rotary Club, MP Ian Austin and the Community Forum fund this would not have been possible."

Klick Business Solutions, Thomas Dudley LTD and MET Recruitment all donated money to support the project, while Dudley North MP Ian Austin donated £300 from his Good Causes Fund he set up when he refused to take the MPs’ pay rise.

Ian Austin MP said: “It is a scandal that projects like this are needed at all in this day and age, but more and more families are struggling to make ends meet or being hit by benefit cuts and lots of children are going without a square meal, so well done to Cathy Bayton, the Friends of Grange Park and local businesses for helping out.

“I always thought it was unacceptable for MPs to have a big pay rise when times are so tough for many local families and I’m keeping my promise to use the money to support good causes instead."

Karen Paskin, Chair of the Friends of Grange Park said: "We know that nationally families, are struggling to make ends meet over the summer holidays.

"There is data, from The Child Poverty Action Group to say that 70% of children who are living in poverty live in a family with one or more adult in employment.

"In St James’s Ward in Dudley North, 35% of children are living in poverty so we thought the Holiday Café Project would help to alleviate some of the pressures families are under.”

Andrea Childs, CEO of Klick Business Solutions, praised how the project has a direct impact, adding: “We like the fact that the money goes straight to the aim of the project – feeding children – there are no administrative costs”.

Holiday hunger affects low-income families who cannot afford food over the school holidays, as children usually get free school meals at school.

Cafes taking part in the project include Lunch On The Run, Gather, Bake ‘n’ Butty, The Coffee Shop and Fountain Arcade Café and the scheme continues for the rest of the school holidays.