A queue of children outside Sea Mills school hall door 10 mins before opening time, means one thing: Holiday Hunger. In they charge, and we volunteers are ready: sausages, bacon, beans and eggs; toast, cereals, yoghurts and fresh fruit prepared and served to parents, carers and their children (primary age and under).
For the many families whose school aged children receive ‘free school meals’, holiday weeks can be a challenging time. Research shows that parents frequently skip meals to ensure there is something for the children to eat, though it may not be hot or nourishing.
Thanks to Gill’s planning, shopping and ongoing applications for funds and food donations from groups, churches, trusts and local businesses, everyone is welcomed and fed with nourishing food and smiles: it is not only for those living in poverty or ‘just about managing’. I love the fact that no-one is asked to pay, all are generously served as our guests. Many of the mums are young, another baby expected, and the opportunity to get out of small homes, sit with other adults while the children have space to run off some pent up energy is a relief. A play worker from the school and adjacent children’s centre puts out a range of attractive toys, play areas and table activities to cover all ages. She spends time chatting with the mums, and keeps notes the ‘Target families’ who attend.
I feel ashamed and saddened that the national Make Lunch movement is needed, along with Food banks, but greatly enjoy helping to feed (and wash up!) for these families each holiday. Maybe there is a school local to Cotham Parish church that would welcome a similar volunteer-led provision during the holidays…