Dozens of Torbay cafes and eateries have stepped in to provide free children’s meals during half term.

Families struggling financially who in term time receive free meals for children in schools will now be able to access a variety of packed lunches and meals.

A campaign by Manchester Utd striker Marcus Rashford led to a u-turn by the Government to continue to provide free meals to qualifying children over the summer holidays.

But the footballer’s calls for the system to continue over half term were rejected by the Government which says it has provided extra support through benefits and given more money to local authorities.

Community interest company RE4orm is spearheading the effort. Founder Katie Cavanna said: “We’re going to have a massive push in supporting families with meals and food parcels over the half term and Christmas period.”

A raft of cafes have joined in offering food for youngsters.

Cafe Cosi in Paignton is just one. A spokesman said: “As a family run business, we would like to do our bit to help the local children in our area. Over the half-term break we will be making little lunches for children who need it. I can even deliver if coming to town isn’t an option.”

Also helping out is Li’l Mama’s vegan cafe in Paignton. A spokesman said: “It’s down to all of us to help each other.”

Liberty cocktail bar and cafe in Brixham joined the initiative and have been overwhelmed with the response. A spokesman said: “We could never have imagined this level of support! We are receiving such lovely messages from our local community with offers of donations.

“We don’t expect financial support for this, so what we would love to do is use any cash donations to purchase ambient stock from our wholesalers for Brixham Food Banks, which can then be used for the Christmas period where families will need extra support.”

Platters cafe in Torre is also offering free packed lunches. They said: “We will be offering free packed lunches for our Torre and Upton children whose families need help in these uncertain times.”

Others offering meals include Cantina and Beachcroft Lodge in Paignton, Meat 59 in Torquay, Prince William in Brixham and Salt and Pepper in Torquay.