Pressure is mounting on the government to continue its voucher scheme for free school meals to vulnerable children in England over the summer.
There is growing unease among some Tory MPs over the refusal to extend the support, as footballer Marcus Rashford continues to campaign on the issue.
During a Commons debate later, Labour will say it would be “callous” not to take what it will call a “small step”.
The government says £63m is available to councils to support families.
In an emotional open letter to MPs, Manchester United forward Rashford drew on his own experience of relying on free school meals and food banks growing up. He said his story was “all too familiar for families in England”.
The Department for Education said it would not reverse its decision – but the England international said on Monday he would fight on, tweeting “we aren’t beaten yet” and “MPs, please #maketheUturn”.
Since the start of the coronavirus lockdown, low-income families whose children ordinarily qualify for free school meals have been eligible to receive food parcels or vouchers.
While provision is to continue through the summer in Scotland and Wales, in England and Northern Ireland it will stop at the end of term.
Last week, three Conservative MPs signed a cross-party letter calling for an extension of the scheme – worth £15 each per week in England – into the summer holidays in England.
Robert Halfon, Tory MP and chair of the Commons Education Committee, also wrote an open letter this month.
“For many families, the extra cost of feeding their children over the summer holidays will make things even harder for those already struggling, or could even push stretched budgets to breaking point,” he wrote.
Sonja from Basingstoke, who has three teenage children, told BBC Radio 5 live Drive she found herself out of work because of the pandemic and does not start her new job until September. She said she would be in “real trouble” without the vouchers in the meantime.
“I’m relying on the £60 I get every fortnight from free school meal vouchers to do my food shopping,” she said.
“There are lots of us out there that have found ourselves on benefits through no fault of our own. We really are struggling to make ends meet and I’m not sure too many people understand how difficult it is – Marcus obviously does.”
Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker also gave his support to Rashford, saying: “He shouldn’t really be having to do this, but… he’s doing a great job.
The former England striker said he understood “kids wouldn’t ordinarily be fed during the summer holidays”, but these are “very, very difficult times”.
Conservative MPs will have a chance to register their unease on Tuesday afternoon when the Labour party holds a Commons debate, said Newsnight’s Nicholas Watt.
One Tory backbencher forecast an eventual government U-turn, he added.
Ministers, who say free school meals are not usually continued into the summer holidays, are planning to amend Tuesday’s Labour motion to highlight the steps the government has taken to help pupils from poorer backgrounds.
This includes an extra £63m for local authorities to help people struggling financially as a result of coronavirus and the Holiday Activities and Food programme, which offers activities and free meals in the summer holidays.