CHILDREN from hard-up families are receiving packed lunches over the summer holidays to make up for the loss of free school meals thank to a new charity project.
The Blackburn and Darwen Summer Lunchbox Project is run by Christian charity Kingdom Outreach and supported by the borough council .
The initiative aims to tackle ‘holiday hunger’ and plug the summer gap for families who normally receive free school lunches during term time.
It sees up to 50 volunteers making around 5,000 sandwiches per week to cater for the 1,080 children whose families have signed up for the six week long holiday period.
The new project follows the Trussell Trust which runs foodbanks in Blackburn and Clitheroe revealing it is working to offer extra help to families struggling over the summer holidays because of the lack of hot, free school lunches for their children.
A recent parliamentary report said there were around three million children in the UK that were at risk of ‘holiday hunger’.
The scheme distributing the lunches through children’s centres and providing free activity sessions to accompany the lunch box collections, from story time to road safety awareness.
Local businesses are backing it through their corporate responsibility schemes including Cherry Tree Bakery in Burnley, which is providing muffins for the lunchboxes.
Pro-Line from Manchester, is distributing the lunch boxes. Bookers and Aldi have also provided support.
Kat Zaman. of Kingdom Outreach, herself a single mother of three, said :”I’m so passionate about this project because I’ve been there..”
Cllr Maureen Bateson, Blackburn with Darwen Council Children’s Services boss, said: “This is a fantastic project and really shows how the community can rally round and help those who need it.
“Holiday hunger is a problem for families right across the country so I’d like to congratulate Kingdom Outreach for coming up with this fantastic scheme.”
Burnley Borough Council’s executive member for community and health Lian Pate said: “The borough will work with the Spacious Places Engage foodbank in Burnley and other organisations in the borough to deal with this problem which we have been aware of for some years.”
Great Places Housing Group is helping manage the volunteers.
It has also donated funding as haas Blackburn with Darwen Healthy Living.
Other businesses that have pledged help include Sams, Urban Outreach, 2BR Radio, Rummage Rescuers, and Radio Lancashire.