A meeting of the county council is to be held later this month, amid calls for free school meals to be provided during the holidays.

National calls for an extension of the ‘free school meal’ scheme during school holidays – led by England footballer Marcus Rashford – were initially rebuffed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The Government has u-turned on that decision over the weekend. The Prime Minister will provide an extra £170 million to provide free meals to kids during the Christmas holidays.

The holiday food and activities programme will also be expanded to cover Easter, summer and Christmas in 2021.

But Liberal Democrat councillors have been calling for Hertfordshire County Council to set up its own local system – even if it has to be funded from the council’s own reserves.

That will now be debated at an extraordinary meeting of the county council on November 17.

It’s the first time, says leader of the Liberal Democrat group Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst, an extraordinary council meeting has been called by the opposition in more than 10 years.

And he hopes the ‘administration’ will realise it "needs to step in" and provide support for the almost 20,000 children in Hertfordshire who receive free school meals.

Cllr Giles-Medhurst says he hopes a system – providing meals or vouchers – could be in place in advance of the Christmas holidays.

“It was done in the summer – and it’s even more important now,” said Cllr Giles-Medhurst, referring to the extension of furlough and the increasing numbers of children eligible for free school meals.

“The administration has to step up to the mark, if it’s not going to be the Christmas Scrooge.”

In a statement issued by the county council – following the Lib Dem request for the extraordinary meeting – deputy council leader Cllr Teresa Heritage stressed that no child in the county should be going hungry.

“We remain committed to supporting families at this difficult time and want to reassure all our residents that help is at hand for those who need it right now,” said Cllr Heritage who is also executive member for children, young people and families.

“We work closely with families across the county and support several schemes and initiatives providing additional extra help, including financial support, food and provision of other household supplies to families in need.”

According to the statement, over the past six months the county council has provided additional support to more than 3500 children and young people – providing £120,000 of funding for local food banks.

“We understand the strength of feeling around the issue of holiday hunger in our communities, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on many families across the county,” said Cllr Heritage.

“Ultimately, no child in Hertfordshire should be going hungry and we are working hard to ensure this doesn’t happen.”