On Friday I was invited to a breakfast event at Burges Salmon to celebrate the work Feeding Bristol are doing to tackle holiday hunger. The purpose of the event was to share the findings of their Healthy Holidays impact report – and they’ve already achieved so much for the city.
In Bristol, more than 11,500 children qualify for free school meals. When the school holidays come around, the families of these children are left struggling to afford the food they need to buy to plug the gap, which can equate to £30-£40 a week per child.
The Healthy Holidays project aims to tackle holiday hunger by supplying food and meals to existing clubs and programmes. They target their work in the areas of greatest need and source healthy and high-quality produce to ensure children experiencing deprivation have access to nutritious and balanced meals.
They do this by collaborating with FareShare, who provide logistical support to get surplus goods from the food industry, mostly at no cost, to the community groups and programmes with links to children and their families. Zest Catering have also been key to the success of the project, assisting with food planning and catering on the ground.
What struck me on Friday is how Feeding Bristol is a clear example of what we’re trying to achieve on the most pressing issues through the One City Approach. They started with a vision, which I share, that no child should go hungry. To achieve this vision, they’re engaging with community groups, private sector organisations and local government to leverage the resource and the connections required. In practice, this equates to hundreds of volunteers using corporate volunteering days to support the project, and 68 charitable and community groups offering access to those children most in need.
Feeding Bristol demonstrates that this approach works. Through their Healthy Holidays project, 53,000 meals were provided across the city in the school holidays, reaching more than 5,000 children. Crucially, 75% of these children receive free school meals, indicating that Feeding Bristol is succeeding in reaching those experiencing the highest levels of deprivation.
I want to create a city in which no parent has to worry about where their child’s next meal is going to come from. With central government failing to protect the most vulnerable in our society, it falls to communities to pull together to deliver the change we need.
I’m proud that, in a time of so much division, people and organisations from across Bristol are coming together to tackle social injustice – it gives me real hope for our shared future.
Thank you to Burges Salmon, who have been great supporters of this work through corporate volunteering and who are targeting their charitable work this year in the area of child hunger, for providing the venue for this event.
You can find out more about Feeding Bristol and how you can support their work here.