On 22nd October, the Government voted not to extend free school meals through the October half term. This is despite loud, wide-sweeping calls to the contrary and a spike in free school meal registrations.
In the face of a bleak outlook for millions of children, going into school holidays hungry, we have seen stories of support from across our Food for Life schools and Food for Life Served Here cooks and caterers.
One of these outstanding stars is Sam Ward, Lead for Food and Nutrition at the Academy for Character & Excellence, a Food for Life Multi Academy Trust.
“We made a conscious decision to continue to support our families during this uncertain time. We have been offering community care support packagers to all our families across the Trust throughout the pandemic to those that felt they needed a little additional food support.
We were fortunate enough to have been working with Fareshare and so through this collaboration we had enough produce to continue to offer this support for half term. This went beyond our FSM families. FSM take up has increased but we were also increasingly aware that the pandemic had affected many of our families and put them under financial pressure. The South West is host to a huge section of the hospitality and tourism industry and so many of our families have been affected.
On the Friday of half term we put together a fabulous box brimming with supplies to be collected for half term and had some grateful feedback from families.
It was important to us that we were able to offer these care packs so our school community felt well-nourished and cared for.
We have also been working closely with local businesses and organisations who have come forward to offer their support. These include local supermarkets offering daily lunch bags and local suppliers offering freshly prepared sandwiches. All this has topped up the care boxes we sent out.
Parents have also offered to bring in produce to help support other families and our local churches offering produce.
I am truly moved by everyone's empathy and generosity, coming from all sides, really pulling together to support each other.”