As part of our drive to increase our time for volunteering as a workforce, three of us ‘Foundationeers’ went along to Greenleys’ Junior School to lend a hand at the Make Lunch MK session that had been organised by St Mark’s MK.
Free school meals make a huge difference to 1.2 million children in the UK but when schools are closed so are the kitchens... MakeLunch is a network of churches working to fill the holiday hunger gap.
It has to be said that we went along with a slight sense of trepidation, working with young children has that effect in some people, but those feelings couldn’t be further from the truth as we all had an amazing experience and felt truly uplifted by the time we returned to the office two hours later!
Nina, and her team at St. Mark’s wish to say how ‘ridiculously thankful’ they are to every one of their wonderful volunteers (over 50 of them) who helped Make Lunch MK happen this week.
According to Nina, 165 guests ate with MakeLunch MK on Tuesday! A further 183 guests joined and ate with the team on Thursday!
That’s 696 meals served in just one half-term week!
This is a great achievement for an organisation who started serving meals in October 2015.
Nina said, “The feedback from the families makes every effort worth while. We had 2 separate parents in 2 different schools tell us that they suffer from anxiety and struggle to leave the house on a normal day but that they feel so comfortable at Make Lunch that it’s one of the only things they’re happy to come along to - and they love it! One parent loves Make Lunch so much that on Tuesday he asked if he could help out and on Thursday he joined the team at Greenleys’ - he made an excellent loud speaker! Another family gave their children three options - a waterpark, the beach or Make Lunch … they chose Make Lunch!
There are lots more stories like this and they are only true because we have a team who carries this culture with them. As always, there are lessons to learn, problems to solve and creases to iron out but we are just over the moon to have helped so many families to get through the holidays hunger-free and that we could make them feel welcomed and valued at the same time).”
1 in 5 children in MK live below the poverty line
Our Vital Signs report highlights that although MK has a record of economic success, poverty remains a growing problem, affecting more and more local families who are not benefitting from the thriving local economy. The indicators for the theme of poverty are, almost without exception, all moving in the wrong direction. In the list of most deprived local authorities, Milton Keynes is climbing the ranks, a growing number of areas within the city are classed amongst the most deprived in the country, and child poverty remains stubbornly at an unacceptably high level.
School holidays for most adults are remembered as a welcome break from school, time to relax with family and friends, maybe go on holiday or just enjoy six weeks of sunshine playing with friends. However, for those families who are struggling financially, the holidays bring with them even greater pressure. Children who are normally at school Monday-Friday are at home, needing to be fed and occupied.
It is a fact that the school holidays add around an extra £10 a week to the household budget as families need to provide meals for children who would normally qualify for free school meals, it has been widely reported that when children are asked if they will enjoy forthcoming summer holidays they said no, because they wouldn’t be able to get their free school meals while school was closed.
That’s why Milton Keynes Community Foundation is proud to support MakeLunch as we think it is every child’s right to look forward to school holidays rather than worrying about where their food might come from!
Thank you to everyone at MakeLunch MK for making us feel so welcome, both volunteers and guests!