Early on in the lockdown-it became apparent that the COVID-19 lockdown was having a devastating effect on the financial stability of families. In particular, a number of parents had been made redundant or placed on furlough.
In early May ’20 the school received information from the School Home Support Head Office about possible food provisions to support families during the lockdown. We were subsequently introduced to the School Food Matters organisation- who seeks to improve children’s access to healthy, sustainable food during their time at school.
So in June ‘20, School Food Matters(SFM) in partnership with Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity organised for free food to be delivered to the school on a regular basis. This was in the form of free healthy breakfast hampers containing sufficient food items for two weeks worth of breakfast. In addition, SFM also worked in partnership with ‘Chef in Schools’ to provide free cooked meals along with dried food to make weekly lunch hampers. Then in early July ’20, SFM worked in partnership with Mission Ventures to provide a range of healthy snacks-which were added as a bonus treat to the Thursday lunch hampers. Each delivery contained enough food to feed 50 families.
Each breakfast hamper was filled with two weeks’ worth of healthy breakfasts including fruit, wholemeal bread, baked beans, weetabix and fresh milk. The hampers were analysed by a public health nutritionist to ensure that they met the School Food Standards which meant that in a time of financial crisis and food insecurity, our children received nutritious food to nurture them and keep them well.
The healthy lunch hampers were a mixture of dry goods to cook such as rice/pasta and vegetables, combined with fresh cooked meals from restaurant partners . The delicious and diverse menus were been well received by our families.
As the summer holidays approached, the school liaised with SFM to ensure that this food provision would continue for the families throughout the holiday season. This was made possible by several members of staff giving up a few hours of their holiday time and volunteering to come into school to distribute the food. So thankfully the food support continued over the six weeks holiday.
For some weeks, there were surplus lunch hampers-so we were able to offer a few hampers to individuals in the community who walked by the school when the hampers were being distributed. They were extremely grateful for this unexpected generosity from the school. Sadly, due to SFM’s funding restraint the last supply of food was distributed to families on 27th August ‘20. We have received great feedback from parents indicating that they were very grateful for the food supplies. They have expressed their gratitude to the school and SFM for this support at a time when it was most needed.
We are so grateful to SFM, Guy’s and St Thomas’, Chefs in Schools and Mission Ventures for this food provision and we look forward to working with them again in the near future. A big thank you to all the members of staff who contributed to the success of this programme-particularly during the summer holiday period.