Community hero teenager Alfie Dean has penned a heartfelt open letter to MP Kevin Foster following the vote against providing free lunches to children over half term.

Alfie, 14, who founded the Babbacombe Pantry to help neighbours during lockdown, says he is ‘appalled and sickened’ at the decision.

His letter highlights the thousands of people struggling financially and being forced to apply for Universal Credit for the first time.

He wrote: “Those applying were met with a five week waiting time for the initial payment, having no option but to take an advanced payment which is deducted at a heavy rate from later payments.

“More than 100,000 families are estimated to have used food banks for the first time, over 100,000 families came to rely on the good will of the community over lockdown.

“In Torbay, 6,000 children live in poverty.

“There are more than ten food banks, numerous community larders, a school uniform bank and many more charities and CICs.

“Members of the local community often respond to calls for support on social media.

“These families will now inevitably rely on food banks, to simply provide their children with a square meal.

“Many relied on the free meals their children received as their children’s main source of food and nutrition.

“These children are my peers, and through the platform of The Babbacombe Pantry which I set up to help the vulnerable and in-need, I stand up to protect them.”

Mr Foster has given a detailed reply to Alfie’s concerns pointing out the Government has given £63million in welfare assistance funding for local authorities to provide urgent support.

And he said Torbay Council has been given £185,000 to support families struggling to afford food.

He has also offered to meet Alfie to discuss his concerns.

Alfie questioned how the Government can fund things like the new HS2 rail link but can’t find the money to support hungry children.

He said: “Please do not think, in these never-seen-before times of hardship, you are creating dependency on the state.

“You would be giving a hand up, not a hand out, protecting and helping to blossom our country’s future.”