Last week, I helped to pack food parcels for families in Arbouthorne, Woodthorpe and Stradbroke as part of Sheffield Healthy Holidays, as well as attending events in Heeley and Arbourthorne and distributing food in Lowedges.
This important project provides food parcels and activities for around 7,500 local children who are eligible for free school meals over the summer holidays. In Sheffield Heeley, over four thousand children rely on free school meals, so holiday hunger is a hugely important issue for our area.
But there are also people that fall through the cracks who wouldn’t necessarily be entitled to the hampers and so I was really pleased to see the work Lowedges Community Centre was doing in supporting all families locally.
Public pressure forced the government to continue free school meals during the school break but, even so, many families struggle to put enough food on the table. Research from the Food Foundation shows that more than 200,000 children have had to skip meals because their family couldn’t access the food they needed during lockdown.
It should shame the government that in the UK – the sixth richest country on earth – we need to rely on emergency food parcels to feed our children. Nevertheless, I remain immensely grateful to all those fantastic volunteers who have given up their free time to help us deal with this crisis.
Healthy Holidays is co-ordinated by Voluntary Action Sheffield (VAS), which helps to organise mutual aid and community projects across the city. Click here to learn more about VAS and sign-up as a volunteer.