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Stortford cafe Penny & Lou offering free lunches to schoolchildren in need for half term




A generous customer has enabled a café in Bishop's Stortford to offer 50 free lunches to schoolchildren in need for half term.

It follows the controversial defeat in the House of Commons on Wednesday of a Labour call for the Conservative Government to extend until Easter 2021 its programme of free school meals in holiday times for the country's most vulnerable children during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Harlow MP Robert Halfon was one of five Tory MPs who voted for the Opposition's motion to support families in need – but his Hertford and Stortford colleague Julie Marson and Saffron Walden's Kemi Badenoch, both mothers, voted against . The move was defeated 319-260.

Penny and Lou co-owner Lou Wickens with environmental health officer Rachal Kiss. Picture: Vikki Lince
Penny and Lou co-owner Lou Wickens with environmental health officer Rachal Kiss. Picture: Vikki Lince

A customer – who prefers to remain anonymous – has donated £150 to Penny and Lou in South Street to fund 10 lunch boxes a day for five days next week, from Tuesday to Saturday (Oct 26-30).

The boxes will contain sandwiches, crisps, fruit and possibly vegetable strips and hummus.

Lou Wickens, who runs the café with mum Penny Rogers, told the Indie that the lunches must be pre-ordered by calling or texting 07545 186178 – and hinted that it might be expanded if there is demand.

Mother and daughter Penny Rogers and Lou Wickens are the pair behind Penny and Lou. Picture: Vikki Lince
Mother and daughter Penny Rogers and Lou Wickens are the pair behind Penny and Lou. Picture: Vikki Lince

She said that although no checks would be made or questions asked, the meal boxes were intended for children of families in need and asked that the offer not be abused, adding: "Do use it if you need to feed your kids."

It's not the first time this year that Penny and Lou has reached out to those in need: in January it launched a 'suspended orders' scheme so that customers can buy homeless people and others a hot drink or food.



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