This week, Conservative MPs rejected a Labour motion, inspired by the footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign on child hunger, by 322 votes to 261.

Rashford has urged MPs to unite and stop being influenced by “political affiliation”.

His words have resonated in Wiltshire.

The county’s four MPs were among those who voted against the motion and they have faced across the board criticism, with Michele Donelan even claiming that she and her staff have faced ‘disturbing and worrying’ personal threats on social media.

This spilled out at a protest in front of her High Street office, where more than 20 parents and children held an ‘empty plate’ protest.

They laid the plates with messages on them on the pavement outside, and claim her office staff threatened them with the police if they did not remove them.

Organiser Claire Coverley said she had been working in education for more than 20 years, and claimed there are children going hungry in Chippenham.

“I teach in Chippenham and I know there will be children going hungry today. We should not have mothers and fathers going to beg for food in this day and age,” she said. “It is despicable, and our MP is supposed to represent us, but instead she just votes with her party.

“I know teachers who regularly give food to children in this town. This is an endemic long- running crisis, not something caused by Covid.”

Ms Donelan’s office rejected the police threat claims, with the MP coming to their defence:

“The police were not called to the office and neither was any threat made of the police being called. My staff reiterated I am more than happy to discuss any issue with any constituent in a surgery appointment.”

Opponents say the Conservative government has seriously under-estimated the strength of feeling, both locally and nationally, around the provision of free school meals for families who are struggling during the Covid-19 pandemic crisis.

Locally, the two opposition parties had called for the Tory-controlled Wiltshire Council to provide meals to the pupils who are currently on free school meals in Wiltshire.

Council officers and members spent the weekend working on how to implement a scheme to provide the meals.

Cllr Ian Thorn, the LibDem Group leader on Wiltshire Council, welcomed the decision, saying:

“I am pleased that the enormous concerns of Wiltshire residents have finally won through on this critical issue.

“I hope that in future the Tory administration at Wiltshire Council will act before they are pushed.”

"There are children going hungry in Chippenham"