A push by Bexley Labour party members to raise funds to provide hungry schoolchildren with free meals over the half-term break has blown through the £6,000-mark in just three days.

Launched by three Labour members within the borough, the 'Feed Bexley Kids' campaign is the latest local initiative stepping in after the Government last week turned down a motion to extend free school meals into the holidays.

And while the initial plan was to raise £1,000 to help 100 families in Bexley, those behind the push have been shocked at the level of support - with more than £6,000 received as of Tuesday morning.

Bexley councillor Mabel Ogundayo, one of the seven founders behind the campaign, said more than 300 requests for assistance had already been received from battling families across the authority.

Alongside fellow founders and local Labour party figures Dave Tingle and Anna Day, she reiterated calls for Bexley Council to step in with their own free school meals programme.

"Through the donations we have received thus far, we know we will be able to help at least 500 children, but sadly that’s nowhere near enough," Cllr Ogundayo said.

"The council still have time to take action and stop children in Bexley going hungry this half term."

Mr Tingle, a former Labour party candidate for the seat of Old Bexley and Sidcup, said although it was "wonderful" to see locals "willing to step up and donate to ensure that no child in Bexley goes hungry", it was a "short term solution (which) would not have been needed if Bexley Council had decided, just like almost all other London boroughs, to provide free school meals over half term".

Lewisham and Greenwich are among the nearby boroughs which have announced free school meal programmes to cover struggling families over the break in a national campaign highlighted by Manchester United superstar Marcus Rashford.

Southern neighbours Bromley have ruled out the move, pointing to "enhanced" support available to battling parents in the borough, in a move echoed by Bexley Council.

“We know this half term may be a difficult time for some families," Bexley leader Teresa O'Neill told the local democracy reporting service.

"We have been working  tirelessly since the beginning of lockdown with our partners and our wonderful voluntary sector to give the help and support needed to our most vulnerable residents including families including the delivery of food, essentials and prescriptions."

"We are always here to provide support to our most vulnerable children and families."

She pointed to multiple services struggling families could access if in need of food over the half-term break - such as Citizens Advice who can issue foodbank vouchers as well as offering help and advice around money and debt.

The Tory leader also encouraged residents to make use of foodbanks of the NHS Healthy Start scheme for those with children under four.

"We work closely with our local foodbanks and stand ready to respond if they need additional support during school holidays," she said.

Citizens Advice: https://bexleycab.org.uk/

Healthy Start information: www.healthystart.nhs.uk

Find your closest foodbank:  www.bexley.foodbank.org.uk/locations 

Labour's Bexley fundraiser: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/bexley-feed-a-child-a-meal