10 tonnes of food parcels delivered to help keep children fed in South Tyneside over summer holidays
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Unlike last summer, the Government is not directly funding vouchers or food packages during the six-week-long 2021 school break.
Working with schools and businesses in the area, the charity’s food bank officer, Connor Sullivan, has been carrying out a daily delivery of food items and activity packs to children in the area in order to help see them through the holiday weeks.
Trussell-Trust-affiliated food banks distributed 18% more emergency parcels in the financial year 2019/20, compared against 2018/19. The 370,000 households supported by the network during this period included 320,000 children.
Hospitality and Hope’s CEO, Brian Thomas, predicts that by Friday, September 3, the charity’s summer holiday effort will have helped support 1,300 children - equating to around 220 a week – across the borough.
Mr Thomas said his organisation has been working with a number of local schools – including Biddick Hall, Hadrian Primary, Holy Trinity, Laygate and Marine Park – in order to identify the children and families in the area that would be best served by the food poverty drive.
"Some children in the area had been getting the £12.50-a-week voucher who were still struggling,” he said.
“And then there were those who weren’t receiving the voucher – who were definitely struggling. So we decided we had to go through schools locally in order to ensure there’d be a helping hand for them over the summer.”
Mr Thomas also explained that the effort to help support borough children at risk of food insecurity over the summer holidays has been supported by local Morrisons stores and the popular King Street green grocer, Fresh and Fruity.
The initiative also sees support for parents and guardians on a childcare front during a challenging summer, with each child receiving six activity bags that range from materials for an arts and crafts week, a beach-themed week and a movie night pack.
The total volumes of food shipped to families in the area since July has been enormous – amounting to 7,800 eggs. 6,500 pieces of fruit, 5,600 pots of yoghurt, 3,450 baking potatoes and 1,300 tomatoes overall.
Mr Thomas added: “Our volunteers and staff will have processed 12 tonnes of food and packed 39,900 individual food items by the end of next week.
"By and large, the families have all been there and not missed almost a single delivery – which has been amazing.
"Something else that’s been great to see is that the kids we’ve helped have really engaged with the activities provided – each week they’ve been waiting for next week’s activity pack to see what would be in there.
"We have a group of volunteers who come in every day to prepare and pack up all the food, before Connor and a volunteer goes off to deliver it all. It’s been a whole team effort - everybody’s been involved to make it happen.”