Bristol friends raise £5,500 after free school meal upset

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image copyrightConnor Laws
image caption(Left to right) Imogen Wood, Jack Miller, Chloe Wood, Maia Dixon, Fiona Riches and Gemma Balding say their focus "is to get people fed"

Chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has backed a group of friends who have raised more than £5,500 for foodbanks.

Chloe and Imogen Wood were shocked to see the lack of food given to families for free school meals packages.

In one week they raised £3,460 online and more than £2,000 offline, filling a dozen trolleys of food that they have delivered to foodbanks in Bristol.

Fearnley-Whittingstall said what they have done was "great", but added the government should be doing more.

Chloe and Imogen, from Southville, along with friends Fiona Riches, Jack Miller, Maia Dixon and Gemma Balding, have already delivered supplies to the North Bristol and East Bristol food banks.

Fearnley-Whittingstall, who has joined calls for the Prime Minister to review the government's free school meals policy, has donated £100 to their cause.

image copyrightChloe Wood
image captionChloe and Imogen, who live together, are working closely with foodbanks to ensure they get what they need

Imogen, 27, a chef who trained and worked with Fearnley-Whittingstall at River Cottage, asked him for his support.

She said: "This opportunity is connecting everyone together, it's classic Bristol that people want to help and I am so proud of our city."

The group have made a few trips to the supermarket to fill up a van with supplies and are working closely with food banks and other charities to ensure they get what is needed.

Chloe, 30, said: "We were so upset by the pictures of the food packages we decided to donate £30 each, then we posted on our Instagram accounts to see if anyone else wanted to join us and it just snowballed from there.

"We're so humbled and proud to be able to help, no one should go hungry - our focus is to get people fed."

'Brilliant project'

The friends - some of whom are furloughed from their roles in music, events and hospitality - are now continuing their campaign to reach £10,000.

Fearnley-Whittingstall added: "It's great that people like Imogen and Chloe are motivated to set up brilliant projects like @helpfeedBristol to help local people who are struggling to eat well.

"But of course it shouldn't be like this.

"That's why we have been calling for a full review of the Free School Meals policy, and the provision of food to families who are falling below the poverty line in Britain."

The government has now announced that schools can begin ordering free school meal vouchers for eligible pupils, worth £15 a week per child, adding to the support available for disadvantaged families.

The scheme allows schools to place orders for supermarket gift cards on behalf of parents and carers whose children are eligible for free school meals.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: "There should be no doubt in this government's commitment to free school meals support for children who need the most help."

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