The scale of holiday hunger is huge, with over 1.2 million children receiving Free School Meals and several million more children living in poverty. It poses an urgent question. What happens to the children in your community during the thirteen weeks of the school holidays? For too many, the food runs out.
We run Make Lunch – a food related initiative aiming to reduce holiday hunger by offering free nutritious meals to children and their families in the school holidays. We started in 2016, and the level of poverty and need has increased significantly since then. We run holiday clubs for primary aged children and their families in three different locations of the city – Twerton, Southdown and the city centre in each of the school holidays throughout the year. Each session includes a hot, 2-course meal and a number of enrichment activities.
We work alongside schools, professionals and other organisations to target our support to families who can most benefit. Around 7 in 10 of children living in poverty don’t qualify for free school meals, and so we believe it’s really important to support the families identified by the people who know them best.
We work with other charities and organisations in Bath to make our enrichment activities as engaging and beneficial as possible. When budgets are tight these sorts of experiences and activities are low on the priority list, and yet provide significant and important opportunities for children to move their bodies and engage their brains, as well as bringing other benefits. Some of our partnerships include sporting activities with Get Sported, preparing and cooking healthy snacks with Virgin’s Cook It team and street dance workshops with Motus Dance Academy. We’ve run themed weeks based on fun and engaging science experiments, created street art, made Christmas decorations and more, and we always include a variety of craft activities to suit different ages, and a team games session.
We also aim to provide opportunities for people to try new activities, and increase their skills. For example, we’ve recently provided cookery equipment and a highly accessible recipe booklet based on cooking with store cupboard staples, to help people increase their cooking skills, confidence and recipe bank.
Since the start of the Covid pandemic in early 2020 we have been unable to run our clubs in person. Instead, we’ve delivered bags of food and activities to support families, initially weekly from May until August. In October half term we delivered bags of food, activity packs for children, cookery equipment and a recipe booklet. This is how we will deliver our Christmas support, and through into the spring of 2021 until it’s safe for us to meet again in person.
You can watch one of our Make Lunch founders giving a talk about the project at TEDx Bath 2018 here. This is a good introduction to holiday hunger, and specifically to the issues here in Bath.
If you’d like to know more, or would like to volunteer with us, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our store cupboard staples recipe book “Let’s Cook Together” can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/oasiscookbook