MAURICE DI ROSSO, PROJECT MANAGER FEEDING BRISTOL
The start of the summer holiday is a joyous time for children and young people wanting a few weeks of care-free relaxation. However, for many children in Bristol, not attending school has a significant undesired consequence: they will no longer receive free school meals. Our guest blog today comes from Feeding Bristol, a local charity working to combat hunger in Bristol.
Nearly 11,000 children in Bristol are registered for free school meals, accounting for approximately 20% of all children. Through conversations with teachers and community organisations, we know there are even more children not included in this number who struggle to have access to nutritious and tasty meals on a daily basis. This struggle becomes even more difficult during the school holidays.
Having not received any funding from Central Government for these upcoming summer holidays, Feeding Bristol launched an appeal to the city to help support these children and young people. Local businesses, Bristol City Council, and partner organisations have done an outstanding job coming together to help us aim to deliver our ‘Healthy Holidays’ project.
In partnership with FareShare South West, and in collaboration with approx. 150 providers of holiday clubs and other community-based activities for children, we aim to provide 50,000 nutritious and tasty meals to children across the 6 weeks of the summer holidays.
Feeding Bristol is dedicated to driving systemic change to increase food security across all social and cultural communities of Bristol – ultimately striving for ‘Zero Hunger’. We’re aiming to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of immediate provision for those in need, as well as influence long-term local economic and national policy changes to improve food security to all Bristolians. Over the last 18 months, children’s food needs have been a core focus of the work we have delivered.
Since registering as a charity in March 2018, Feeding Bristol has continued to build its network of partners across the city in an effort to bring together everyone with similar aspirations. Our network includes people and organisations ranging from local restaurants, charities, retailers, manufacturers, social enterprises, academics, chefs, and government organisations. Through a diverse range of thinking, we will be able to work together in our efforts to effectively address the systemic factors that cause food insecurity.
June 2019 saw the launch of two FOOD (‘Food on Our Doorstep’) Clubs in our Bristol Children Centres. In partnership with Family Action, BCC Early Years and FareShare South West, this membership-based model provides an affordable top-up of groceries on a weekly basis. With refrigerators included, we can provide a very high-quality range of food to our members. While the parcels of food received by the members vary from week to week, the intention is to provide a top-up to their weekly groceries, not a complete replacement. Hence, at £3.50 fee per week for the members, they receive approx. £20 of fresh and high-quality food. We will be launching more FOOD Clubs over the coming months across Bristol, and would like to extend our thanks to all the partners for making this initiative happen. Keep an eye on the Feeding Bristol website for future details: www.feedingbristol.org.
Feeding Bristol is continually focused on its mission to systemically drive food security in Bristol. Based on our four key strategic priorities (improving targeted provision to support immediate needs with an initial focus on childhood hunger and other vulnerable groups; increasing the local community’s enthusiasm, knowledge, and capability to grow and cook food; significantly increasing regional food production and the supply of good quality local food to the city within a sustainable economic framework; and lobbying and working with local and national government, influencing policy change to drive greater food security), we will be establishing ‘Working Groups’ to drive initiatives and work with existing community groups. There is a lot of amazing work already occurring in Bristol – we hope to provide a platform that allows people and groups to come together to share and learn from one another, allowing continual growth across Bristol and furthering progress towards a zero-hunger city. If you are interested in finding out more or being involved in the Bristol network, please contact us at email@example.com.