Chichester foodbank urges residents to back permanent changes to free school meals
As Christmas approaches the Chichester District Foodbank team has been packing boxes to feed children facing holiday hunger.
The foodbank has committed to providing food for those in need throughout the district since 2012, having now fed over 20,000 adults and children.
In 2016, it launched a new initiative designed to help those who were on free school meals due to low income over school holidays.
In the first year it partnered with a few schools and fed around 130 children, but since then this number has continued to grow as the foodbank engaged with more schools, and during Easter this year, it fed over 800 children.
Rich Lush, deputy project manager, said: “Children on free school meals due to low income often have parents who are on Universal Credit and in the Chichester District, where the cost of living is so high, those benefits do not go far. For these families the additional cost of feeding their children during the Christmas holidays is impossible to budget for, even with the extra £20 a week.
“This Christmas, as we have already packed our boxes and because schools have informed us the need is great in our district, we are continuing to give out our Christmas lunch packs to complement the government scheme.
“In the future, we believe that there shouldn’t be a need for foodbank provision for children during the holidays as we hope to see permanent government support.
Chichester District Foodbank has urged people across the area to write to their MP, thanking them for the change and arguing that it should be permanent.
It is also asking residents to donate food or money to the foodbank to allow it to continue its work and help make a difference in the community.
Mr Lush said: “We are incredibly thankful that Marcus Rashford has been able to highlight this important issue and lead the government to U-turn on their previous policy and are now making provision for children on free school meals over Christmas.
“We are thankful for the government who have agreed to extend the scheme until Christmas 2021, however we believe that this shouldn’t be an extension, but a permanent change.”