Primary Schools to give free food to hungry families
The biggest primary school academy trust in England will give food to parents to prevent ‘family hunger’, it was reported by the BBC.
The Reach2 trust is going to put community fridges in its schools to provide food for families who otherwise would not be able to afford it.
The project is being launched in five schools in the east of England, with the aim of expanding to all of the trust's 60 primary schools.
Trust chief Sir Steve Lancashire says it's ‘heartbreaking’ that it is needed.
"We often hear about children going to school hungry because their families simply cannot afford to provide them with the food that they would want to."
He adds that the problem is ‘very widespread’ in the deprived areas where many of the trust's schools are located.
"The demands on families are rising, but wages are low, work can be hard to come by - and life is complex."
There have been growing numbers of schools providing food to parents in need - with the National Governance Association reporting last month that 8% of governors were in schools which were operating food banks.
The food will include surplus school meals and food approaching its use-by date, such as fruit, cheese, eggs, vegetables and yoghurts.
"Every week school kitchens have to discard food," says Sir Steve. But he hopes the community fridges will put the food to better use in tackling "family hunger".
It will begin next week with Reach2's primary schools in Colchester and Clacton in Essex and Ipswich, Beccles and Lowestoft in Suffolk.
Food banks usually provide supplies to people who have referrals from social services, GPs or schools.
But the community fridges in school will be available to any parents who need to take food - and will be ‘discreetly placed to avoid any stigma’.
Lancashire says he does not expect parents to abuse the offer - but says he would rather see a few people wrongly getting free food than see families going hungry.
"Parents are genuinely on the breadline,” he says.