From a Bramley sandwich shop to traders on an Armley industrial estate and community activists in Kirkstall – West Leeds is rallying to provide food for hungry children this half-term holiday.
The response follows a defeated House of Commons motion – led by Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford – which would have seen free school meals for kids extended through the holidays.
Carol’s offers packed lunches
Carol’s Confectioners in Bramley Town Street will make free packed lunches for children throughout half term. The team said on Facebook:
“In light of the government announcement that they are refusing to provide free school meals to struggling families throughout October half term, we feel it is right to do what we can to help.
“We will be making up to 20 free packed lunches per day from Monday 26th October to Friday 30th October.
“We will be asking our customers to chip in with their spare change throughout the week, in the hopes that we will be able to make a few more for those that need them.
“Please don’t feel embarrassed if you need a little help and contact us through messenger to make a request. Please message us the day before so we can make sure they will be ready for you. Collection will be between 11am-12pm. With love, the Carol’s team.”
Hot meals in Armley
Tommy Massey contacted WLD with details of this initiative from businesses at Sunshine Mills Business Park in Armley, who have come together to fund a daily hot meal for children in need in the LS12 postcode. He said:
“I can’t imagine how it must feel to be in such a hard position, but I’m urging you not to be embarrassed and please reach out if you need the help. We’re not here to judge, only to help.
“Message me if you want any more info or if you can’t make the time slot due to no transport and/or other circumstances and one of us will arrange for your children’s meal(s) to be delivered to you.
“This is for families in LS12 only as there will be only be enough food for the local community. We wish we could provide more but at this time we only have approx 100 meals per day available. If you have a mask or face covering available to you then please wear one and adhere to social distancing guidelines when receiving your meal(s).”
Any child in LS12 can collect a free meal any weekday between 5pm and 7pm.
More than £1,000 collected in Kirkstall
More than £1,000 has been donated to a crowdfunder to support hungry youngsters.
Kirkstall councillor Hannah Bithell said:
“Just because the government doesn’t think feeding children is important doesn’t mean in Kirkstall we have to agree. Kirkstall Valley Development Trust have agreed to make up to 100 meals a day for families that need them Monday to Friday this half term.”
Adele Rae, from KVDT, added on the organisation’s Facebook page:
“We want you to know that we realise you might be struggling at the moment through no fault of your own and we care.
“That is why this morning Cllr Bithell set up a go fund me page so that we, Kirkstall Valley Development Trust along with partners and volunteers, can provide meals to families just like yours. Your Kirkstall friends and neighbours have already donated more than £1m000 to ensure that no child or family needs to go hungry this holiday.
“If you are struggling please don’t be embarrassed there really is no need – we just want to help.”
The crowdfunder can be found here.
Pudsey families offered support
Any families in Pudsey, Calverley, Swinnow, Tyersal, Farsley, Rodley and Calverley with children who would normally get free school lunches can contact the Pudsey Community Project for a half term food parcel without charge.
Healthy Holidays programme across Leeds
Sparked by footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign to extend free school meals over the holidays, a partnership project which supports thousands of families and carers struggling to feed children out of term time is also set to run over school break.
The Healthy Holidays programme, run by Leeds Community Foundation in partnership with Leeds City Council and other organisations, provides children and families with access to meals and activities during the holidays.
Since April, the programme has provided just under 130,000 portions of food to children and their families, alongside online activities, face to face activities, and activity packs delivered to their homes.
The programme is aimed at helping to reduce the impact of holiday hunger and other pressures that families experience as well as providing increased opportunities and experiences for young people in the areas of greatest need.
Kirkstall councillor Fiona Venner, Leeds City Council’s executive member for children and families, said:
“No family should ever be faced with the worry and anxiety of not being able to provide for their children in the holidays and we have always worked hard to ensure that every child who lives in poverty in Leeds can have access to healthy, nutritious food- alongside enriching activities- every holiday period.
“We are immensely proud of the work that is going on in Leeds, and all of the amazing individuals and organisations who are really making a difference.”
Let WLD know what you’re doing
Are you providing lifeline food and support this half term? Let WLD know by emailing us on firstname.lastname@example.org.