Churches providing free meals for children amid half-term holiday hunger fears


Churches across England will be providing free meals to children during the half-term holiday.
Group of six children playing football outside James Atkinson

Millions of children are identified as living in poverty and many are eligible to receive free school meals during term time.

However, although some Local Authorities are providing support, many disadvantaged children in England will not be provided with food vouchers during the half term break. Church of England schools and parishes are stepping in to help.

In the Diocese of Gloucester, Catherine Milsom, ordinand at the church of St Paul's, Shurdington, has arranged food to be provided for more than 50 children. 

The local Church primary school, cross-denominational churches, and local businesses have teamed up with the Morrisons supermarket in Up Hatherley to deliver food throughout half-term

Susan Cooke, vicar of Greenway Benefice, said it was her Christian duty to feed the hungry.

She said: “We’re so proud of our partnership with the school. It enriches our church community and is always part of our prayers and planning.

“Everyone got behind this project very quickly and we have been delighted and overwhelmed by the generosity of the churches, the community, individuals and businesses.

“They all want to help the families of the children who attend the school, and families in the village whose children go to other schools.”

In the Diocese of York, in Thorntree, Middlesbrough, hundreds of children will be fed by local churches.

The 68 families who are expected to be fed include 340 children. Each family will choose 15 items of food from St Thomas Church Brambles Farm and then will be given a fruit and vegetable pack.

Funded by Together Middlesbrough and Cleveland, a joint venture between Church Urban Fund and the Diocese of York, the project will also see a craft club on Wednesday for 20 children which will include a packed lunch. The group is also providing a take-home meal for siblings who may also need food provided.

crate of food at foodbank

In the Diocese of Exeter, Church Urban Fund has been working in Plymouth to alleviate child poverty in the city.

Transforming Plymouth Together (TPT), a joint venture between the Diocese of Exeter and Church Urban Fund, last year provided 2,500 meals during the holiday period. This year however, due to Covid-19 physical restrictions, TPT has created the “Feast of Fun at Home.”

This is a weekly hamper of food for a family and can include outdoor games or craft activities.

The group report families know the support as a “Godsend” and say families would struggle without food being given to them.