Forest of Dean food box helps students in food poverty

Published
image copyrightKhady Gueye
image captionKhady Gueye said: "The project will continue to help students in need throughout the year"

An initiative has provided 100 half-term food hampers to families who would normally receive free school meals.

Local charities in the Forest of Dean started the free school meals project in a bid to tackle food poverty.

Five secondary schools were involved and were each given 20 hampers filled with cupboard goods and stationery.

Deputy headteacher Emily Smith at Dean Academy said it was a "relief" to be able to support students when they were not able to rely on school meals.

The project also helped students at Wyedean School, Forest High School, Five Acres and Dean Magna School.

image copyrightKhady Gueye
image captionThe hampers were filled with essential cupboard goods, recipe cards and stationery to support school pupils
image copyrightKhady Gueye
image captionThe hampers were handed out to 20 families from each participating school

Ms Smith said: "Obviously lockdown is proving a huge challenge for students and their families so it's massive that we could help 20 families with food and to know that they had that to keep them going throughout the holidays is a great relief."

Local Equality Commission's director Khady Gueye said: "Finding ourselves in the crisis that we're in, we felt we needed to do something from a grassroots level that put the community's needs first and not wait for some government initiative.

"Nationally there has been an increase in food bank use but here in particular it has been a big issue especially around the school meals and children are needing that extra support."

It was a joint effort between The Forest Voluntary Action Forum (FVAF), The Local Equality Commission, Neighbourly, Sixteen Community Café, Fareshare, and The Forest Foodbank.

Due to the pandemic record numbers of people have been flocking to their nearest food banks for extra support.

The Trussell Trust - which runs food banks across the UK - said they have had to provide around 2,600 food parcels a day to struggling families.

Miss Gueye added: "The Forest of Dean is an area that is adversely affected by economic injustice."

image copyrightKhady Gueye
image captionVolunteers helped to pack the food hampers donated by food banks and Lidl

'Community effort'

A FVAF spokesperson said: "Whilst so many have struggled over the past year, seeing our communities come together to support each other has been a shining light.

"This project is just one of the many examples of this and we're looking forward to building on this community effort to keep supporting those in need throughout Covid-19."

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