A charity giving out meals to struggling families thanks to controversial support from the United Nations’ children’s arm, Unicef, is expanding its food operation.
The charity School Food Matters is to receive funding to support Southwark and Lambeth children and families at risk of food insecurity while schools are closed during the UK’s third national lockdown.
School Food Matters will use the grant to supply over 91,000 nutritious breakfasts every fortnight throughout lockdown to 109 primary and currently closed secondary schools.
The food, funded with support from Impact on Urban Health, a part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, will support children and families vulnerable to food insecurity who have been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Chefs in Schools will be joining the programme, providing 500 healthy lunch hampers each week.
The first food deliveries to schools will begin on Monday 11th January.
The coronavirus pandemic is the most urgent crisis affecting children since the Second World War, upending children’s lives around the world and in the UK. Even before the pandemic struck, a YouGov poll in May commissioned by the charity Food Foundation found 2.4 million children (17%) were living in food insecure households. By October, an extra 900,000 children had been registered for free school meals.
School Food Matters is building on its successful Breakfast Boxes programme which launched with the first lockdown in March 2020 and ran for 18 weeks throughout school closures and the summer holidays, providing over half a million breakfasts to children and young people. The programme focuses on the London Boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark where, according to Trust for London, 44% of children live in poverty.
The Founder and Chief Executive of School Food Matters Stephanie Slater said: “We are so grateful to be able to step up once again and help families in Lambeth and Southwark during the winter school closures. In 2020 our Breakfast Boxes programme provided over half a million nutritious breakfast to families struggling to feed their families well during lockdown. Children from low-income families have been hit particularly hard by the Covid crisis so our work must continue until we have a long-term solution, through government policy, to end the misery of child food poverty.”
Sarah Hickey, Programme Director – Childhood Obesity, Impact on Urban Health said: “Many families are struggling with both the financial and health impacts of the Covid pandemic. The latest school closures will add a further barrier to children’s ability to access the food they need to be healthy. We are so pleased to continue our partnership with School Food Matters to deliver the Breakfast Box Programme; making thousands of nutritious meals available to families in Lambeth and Southwark who are at risk of food insecurity.”
School Food Matters will use the Impact on Urban Health funding to work with The Menu Partners to deliver the breakfast supplies to schools, supported by school staff and volunteers who will pack and distribute Breakfast Boxes to families. Each box will contain enough nutritious food for ten breakfasts.
In the summer the boxes provided not only vital nutrition but a way of keeping the community connected. A Lambeth Assistant Headteacher said: “These boxes have been such a lifeline for parents, during a period of severe economic stress. They have absolutely loved them, commenting on how tasty the kids have found the fruit. And it became an important way for us to keep connected with our vulnerable families, beyond their food needs. It has brought us together as a community.”
For more information visit https://www.schoolfoodmatters.org/projects/healthy-breakfast-boxes
*The estimated 2.4million children living in food insecure households is based on findings from the Food Foundation. Full press release can be found here: https://foodfoundation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/New-COVID-19-childrens-food-insecurity-data-FINAL.pdf
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