Schools staff volunteer to deliver food and essentials to Bristol families in need
STAFF working for Bristol’s biggest schools federation have been volunteering to help deliver more than 2,000 boxes of food and other essential items to families in difficulty over the Easter break.
The Cabot Learning Federation, which runs academy schools including City Academy and Bristol Brunel, has been of offering a ‘family box’ of supplies, not just to families in receipt of free school meals but also to those suffering hardship due to changes in personal circumstances or health complications.
The CLF team says its ability to buy at wholesale prices means it can get better value for money for families than would have been possible with supermarket vouches, and can therefore create “substantial” boxes of food, which are being delivered by volunteers, saving on delivery fees.
Each box contains fresh bread, a litre of milk, 500g butter, 250g cheese, bananas and apples as well as 1kg onions, 1kg carrots, 2.5kg potatoes, 3kg pasta, rice, cereal and tinned tomatoes.
In addition to the food in the box, there have been some local donations of other household items. The boxes themselves have been donated by local organisations, as have the Bags for Life that are being used to hold fresh items.
CLF staff with one day's worth of food parcels
CLF has taken art and craft equipment from store cupboards and distributed it among the boxes, enabling families to do more art and craft at home, helped by videos on the CLF website, which also includes a series of recipes and ‘cookalong’ videos to support children and families to try new dishes and make the most of the ingredients in their boxes.
The aim of the project is to feed children and families who may be struggling to access food, as well as supporting their well-being more broadly at a challenging time for all.
The federation has already donated protective equipment from its science and design technology departments to the NHS and used 3D printers and laser cutters to make visors.
Executive principal Sally Apps said: “There are many families who have found that the sudden changes associated with Covid-19 have caused hardship and difficulty.
“We miss our children and families, and wanted them to know that we continue to think about them and very much want to celebrate their successes even – and perhaps especially – at this worrying time. This is why we have come together to provide some resource and support for our children and families.
“We are very grateful to those who have donated, those who are volunteering and those who have taken on the enormous task of organising this effort safely. It is absolutely what our children deserve and a real sign of the commitment and care of staff right across our organisation.”
Loading one of the parcels
The CLF initiative comes after Bristol City Council helped force a government U-turn to ensure free school meals would be extended over the Easter holidays to stop kids from poorer homes going hungry.
The local authority sent a letter urging ministers, having previously maintained it would be available only during term time.
Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees had written a joint letter, along with the leaders of Birmingham and Leeds city councils, to education secretary Gavin Williamson, urging him to reverse a decision not to fund the vital food service during the two-week break.
They wrote: “Many families are now finding themselves, perhaps for the first time, unable to feed their families and cover essential costs.”