Make Lunch: filling the holiday hunger gap
Make Lunch founder Rach Warwick unpacks the challenges of running a charity which helps feed UK children living in poverty ...
In June 2011, I watched the BBC documentary Poor Kids. It showed what life is like for the 3.5 million children who live in poverty in the UK. Six weeks later, our first Lunch Kitchen opened.
That summer we served around 300 meals in Corby, Luton and Middlesbrough. This summer, 30 Kitchens opened across the UK serving more than 6,000 meals.
Lunch Kitchens provide a safe place for children to go during the school holidays where they can get a hot, nutritious meal, meet other children and have fun. For families on a low income, school holidays mean having to find extra money to pay for food for children who usually get fed at school.
Lunch Kitchens offer a welcome relief to the family budget, help to alleviate school holiday boredom for the kids and offer social interaction for their parents.
One of the biggest challenges is building trust within the community. Some parents fear that admitting they need help means admitting they can’t look after their children. It isn’t necessarily true, but it’s a real concern.
It takes time for communities to trust the Kitchens and their teams, so perseverance and commitment is key.
There have been loads of moments of joy, not least hearing stories from the churches running the Kitchens. Some parents have got involved with cooking the meals so they could learn recipes to cook at home. One family who were found fishing in a ditch were referred to a Lunch Kitchen nearby for a safer meal and further support.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the statistics, but MakeLunch is about individual meals for small numbers of children. We encourage churches just to do what they can, even if that’s just one day.
We’d like to see a Lunch Kitchen available for any child who needs it, and through getting to know families we’ll be able to do more for them.
And also, by telling our stories and sharing what we’ve learnt, we hope we can become a valuable tool for advocacy.
Our hope is that one day Lunch Kitchens won’t be necessary because child poverty will have ended in the UK.
• Would you like a grant of £1,500-£3,000 to start a church-based community project? The Cinnamon Network is trying to make it as easy as possible for local churches to serve those people most at need in their communities. Get started at www.cinnamonnetwork.co.uk