THERE was widespread anger over the Government rejection of a proposal to extend free school meals during the holidays until next Easter.

The bid, championed by England footballer Marcus Rashford, was defeated by 322 votes to 261 last Wednesday.

Following the result, the 22-year-old urged people and politicians to “put aside all the noise, the digs, the party politics and unite to protect our most vulnerable children”.

And that is exactly what businesses across Sussex have done.

A vast number have already offered to provide free school meals during the October half term this week.

After the overwhelming support for this unofficial free school meals scheme, Marcus Rashford said: “(I am) blown away by news of local businesses stepping up to fill the voucher scheme deficit during the October half term.

“Selflessness, kindness, togetherness, this is the England I know.”

These are the Sussex venues which have been singled out and shared on social media by Marcus Rashford:

1. Athena B, Station Road, Portslade

The Athena B is a family-run fish and chip restaurant established in 1981.

It will be offering one meal per child each day, or up to three meals per household.

A statement from the restaurant read: “We believe in helping those in need, we would love to offer free kids’ meals to anyone that pops in throughout this week, Monday to Thursday.”

2. Seaford Town FC, Bramber Lane, Seaford

The club said: “In support of Marcus Rashford we will be offering free lunches to children on free school meals over half term.

“Our clubhouse kitchen will be open from Monday to Friday, between 12pm and 2pm.”

3. The Art House, Grove Road, Eastbourne

The venue said: “Things are tough for families at the moment and with half-term this week we will be offering free children’s packed lunches to be collected from the cafe.

“This is for people who are genuinely struggling to feed their children during the school holidays as no child should go hungry.”

4. Jordan’s Cafe, Farm Road, Worthing

The cafe said: “As the government has voted against free school meals over half term, many shops are offering to step in and we thought we would do the same.

“If you call into the shop (between Monday and Thursday) we will give you a free kid’s meal.”

5. No Bones, The Prince Albert Pub, Brook Street, Hastings

The vegan junk food company said: “When we started, we said we would stick to our morals and ethics and strive to make the world a better, and ultimately happier, place to live through our food and reach.”

It will offer a free burger to children of school age between 12pm and 2pm tomorrow.

6. The Master Fryer, Jengers Mead, Billingshurst

The fish and chip shop said: “As the government aren’t providing free school meals over half term we are stepping in to help out.”

It is offering a free sausage and chips meal to children of school age between 12pm and 2pm until Friday.

7. Burgess Hill Town FC, Maple Drive, Burgess Hill

Free school lunches will be available between 12pm and 2pm on Friday at the club’s Hillians Bar.

“The club echoes the work of Marcus Rashford to help tackle child poverty across the country,” a spokesman said.

8. Home Coffee House, Victoria Road, Burgess Hill

The venue is providing free, hot jacket potatoes with fillings between 2pm and 4pm this week to any children living in the area who usually receives a free school meal.

The customer must say “half-term” to the person serving them.

9. Riddle and Finns, Brighton 

The restaurant is preparing children's lunches which are being offered to children, schools and foodbanks which need them.

10. Several sites in Sussex

Marcus Rashford also shared a list he had been sent of other venues in Sussex which are offering free school meals this week.

They include Lewes FC; Peacehaven FC; Newhaven FC; Cafe 12/31 in Abinger Place, Lewes; the Hampden Arms in Heighton Road, Newhaven; The Wheel Inn in Heathfield Road, Burwash; Landport Community Room, Horsfield Road, Lewes; and Hixon Green, Friars Walk, Lewes.