Four Croydon primary schools have started their own food banks to help support their communities during the second covid-19 lockdown.
South Norwood Primary, Woodcote Primary, Broadmead and The Crescent, all Pioneer Academy schools, took the initiative in the knowledge that during the first lockdown period earlier this year, when schools were closed to the majority of children, other schools in the group across Bexley, Bromley, Croydon and in Kent supported their families by supplying more than 3,000 food parcels.
“It is imperative that we are doing everything we can at this unprecedented and anxious time, to support our families in every way we can,” said Lee Mason-Ellis, the CEO of the Pioneer Academy trust.
“We are learning to look and listen to our communities more closely than ever before, and in doing so are able to help them in new ways. As such, this is something we intend to offer long term.”
The food bank service at the Croydon primaries was launched on Friday, and coincided with the BBC’s Children In Need fund-raising day.
Heads and teachers across the Pioneer trust remain concerned about the financial pressures the current lockdown will have on some families, and the impact this can have on their children. According to the Trussell Trust’s report Summary findings on the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on food banks, March and April this year saw food bank use almost doubling. April saw a 95 per cent increase in the number of families with children receiving a parcel from a food bank, compared to April 2019.
This increase in users has been compounded by logistical problems facing food banks, due to ongoing covid-19 restrictions.
Now, working in partnership with Nourish Contract Catering Ltd, the Pioneer Academy and its schools are providing a weekly food bank every Friday.
Food boxes for families include essentials such as bread, half-a-dozen eggs, a sleeve of Weetabix, 500gm of pasta, six apples, two tins of baked beans and a pint of milk, plus additional donations, equating to approximately £10-worth of food.
Sarah Hunter, the headteacher at Broadmead Primary School in Selhurst, said, “We are delighted to be able to support our local community during such a difficult time. It’s great to be working in partnership with Pioneer and Nourish to support so many families during these unprecedented times.”
Parents expressed thanks for the help offered by the scheme. “It’s very generous for the school to give meals, and as a community we should be giving – what goes around comes around,” one mother said.
Another said, “This is perfect timing. I’ve had both boys at home in self-isolation and they’ve eaten me out of house and home! Thanks so much.”
Community spirit is seeing further donations being made from families within each school, providing additional food products such as tinned fruit and vegetables, dried fruit, bags of toiletries and cereal bars.
School staff and parent volunteers are helping to sort and quarantine items before they are made available through the food banks, ensuring continued safety.
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