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Friday, 28 November 2014

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Help for families to feed kids in school holidays

Families struggling to feed their children during the school holidays now have somewhere to turn, thanks to the area’s foodbank.

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HOLIDAY FOOD: Alan Urquhart and Judith Cable, of the North Lakes Foodbank, prepare the special packs for families whose children are eligible for free school meals

Volunteers at North Lakes Foodbank realised that families whose youngsters claim free school meals were finding it difficult to make ends meet in the holidays.

So they have launched a service to help those on the bread line.

Jessie Hendry, project manager, said: “We worked out that over the summer holidays a family with three children would need to provide on average 90 extra meals per month.

“These would be the main meals of the day and that is a huge pressure.

“This service will supplement our usual foodbank service, and if successful we could look to extend it to other school holidays the year round.”

Latest county council figures say that 1,663 youngsters in Allerdale are eligible for free school meals.

People are referred to the foodbank in times of crisis. In the last financial year it helped almost 6,500 people across West Cumbria.

The school lunch service will launch on Monday at the foodbank’s Workington centre at the Bridge Centre, on Central Square, between noon and 2pm.

Families need to take paperwork that proves their children are eligible for free school meals, and they will be handed a lunch pack containing enough food for up to three children for five days.

The packs will include tinned ravioli, tinned beans, tinned hot dogs, instant mash, tinned peas and cereal bars.

People can collect them from the centre on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from noon to 2pm.

Any food left over after the scheme ends, in about five weeks, will be used in the foodbank’s regular service.

The foodbank gives nutritionally balanced three-day food boxes via a voucher system to people in need across West Cumbria, who have to be referred to the service.

North Lakes Foodbank started in 2009 and has 130 volunteers in five West Cumbria centres.

Mrs Hendry added: “We are not something for people to become dependent on but to help in emergencies.

“We are supported by local businesses and the community, who donated 50 tonnes of food last year, and it is fantastic to see people still giving.

“We’re finding that demand for the service has doubled year on year and it’s increasingly difficult to provide.”

Anyone who can donate food for the lunch packs is asked to take items to collection points, which include supermarkets, the Minto Centre at Westfield and Lakes College in Lillyhall.

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