Published: 09:13, 22 October 2020
| Updated: 09:19, 22 October 2020
Just one Kent MP voted in favour of a bid to extend free school meals for the country's poorest pupils over the holidays.
Canterbury's Rosie Duffield was the only parliamentarian from the county to back the measure, as a motion to feed more than 1.4 million children was rejected last night with a majority of 61.
Conservatives Tracey Crouch and Sir Roger Gale did not vote - but the rest of their Tory colleagues in Kent voted against the move.
The government has so far rejected a campaign - led by Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford - to fund the provision of school meals during the half-term and Christmas breaks.
Writing on Twitter before the vote last night, Ms Duffield said: "Everyone who has direct experience working in schools knows first hand how serious an issue holiday hunger is."
Activists argue that the extra provision is needed as the pandemic is contributing to increasing economic insecurity, with unemployment expected to spike during the disease's second wave.
Under the proposals, 1.4 million disadvantaged children in England would have been given £15-a-week food vouchers during the breaks between terms until Easter.
But the motion, tabled by Labour members, was defeated by 322 votes to 261.
Despite opposing the bid, South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay shared a Conservative graphic on Twitter that stated the party is "supporting pupils in need".
It says they have backed free school meals for 1.4 million children from low-income families, a £9 billion spending boost for the welfare system and £63 million to help councils
Reacting to the news, Rashford said on Twitter: "Put aside all the noise, the digs, the party politics and let's focus on the reality.
"A significant number of children are going to bed tonight not only hungry but feeling like they do not matter because of comments that have been made today.
"We must stop stigmatising, judging and pointing fingers. Our views are being clouded by political affiliation.
"This is not politics, this is humanity.
"1.5 million children have little to no access to food resources due to the two-child Universal Credit cap.
"Nobody is pointing fingers, I’m asking we work together to protect our most vulnerable children dealing with the devastating effects of the pandemic. This is nothing to do with politics."