Our guest blog today comes from Maurice Di Rosso, project manager of Feeding Bristol and signatory of the Children’s Charter.
The start of the summer holiday is a joyous time for children and young people wanting a few weeks of care-free relaxation. However, for many children in Bristol, not attending school has an undesired consequence: they will no longer receive free school meals.
Nearly 11,000 children in Bristol are registered for free school meals, accounting for approximately 20% of all children. Through conversations with teachers and community organisations, we know that the actual number of children who struggle to access tasty and nutritious meals is higher and that this problem becomes more acute during the school holidays.
Feeding Bristol is dedicated to driving systemic change to increase food security across all social and cultural communities in Bristol – ultimately striving for ‘Zero Hunger’. We’re aiming to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of immediate provision for those in need, as well as influence long-term local economic and national policy changes to deliver food security for all Bristolians. Over the last 18 months, children’s food needs have been a core focus of the work we have delivered.
Since registering as a charity in March 2018, Feeding Bristol has built its network of partners across the city to bring together everyone with similar aspirations. Our network includes people and organisations ranging from local restaurants, charities, retailers, manufacturers, social enterprises, academics, chefs, and government organisations. Through a diverse range of thinking, we will be able to work together in our efforts to effectively address the systemic factors that cause food insecurity.
June 2019 saw the launch of two FOOD (‘Food on Our Doorstep’) Clubs in our Bristol Children Centres. In partnership with Family Action, BCC Early Years and FareShare South West, this membership-based model provides an affordable top-up of groceries every week. With refrigerators included, we can provide a very high-quality range of food to our members. While the parcels of food received by the members vary from week to week, the intention is to provide a top-up to their weekly groceries, not a complete replacement. Hence, for a £3.50 fee per week, members receive approximately £20 of fresh and high-quality food.
We will be launching more FOOD Clubs over the coming months across Bristol and would like to extend our thanks to all the partners for making this initiative happen. Keep an eye on the Feeding Bristol website for future details: www.feedingbristol.org.
Having not received any funding from Central Government for the upcoming summer holidays, Feeding Bristol appealed to the city to help support these children and young people. Local businesses, Bristol City Council, and partner organisations have done an outstanding job coming together to help us deliver our ‘Healthy Holidays’ project. In partnership with FareShare South West and collaborating with approximately 150 providers of holiday clubs and other community-based activities for children, we aim to provide 50,000 nutritious and tasty meals to kids across the 6 week summer holiday.
Feeding Bristol is continually focused on its mission to systemically drive food security in Bristol. We have four key strategic priorities:
- Improving targeted provision to support immediate needs with an initial focus on childhood hunger and other vulnerable groups.
- Increasing the local community’s enthusiasm, knowledge and capability to grow and cook food.
- Significantly increasing regional food production and the supply of good quality local food to the city within a sustainable economic framework.
- Lobbying and working with local and national government, influencing policy change to drive greater food security.
Based on these, we will be establishing ‘Working Groups’ to drive initiatives and work with existing community groups. There is a lot of fantastic work already occurring in Bristol – we hope to provide a platform that allows people and groups to come together to share and learn from one another, enabling continual growth across Bristol and furthering progress towards a zero-hunger city.
If you are interested in finding out more or being involved in the Bristol network, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.