Marcus Rashford’s campaign to ensure children in need in England receive free meals during school holidays has certainly shone the spotlight on child poverty, so much so that the Government has recently reviewed their policy and is now set to extend free school meal provision beyond term-time.
Make Lunch is a voluntary initiative that started life in 2011 when founder Rachel Warwick watched the C4 documentary, “Poor Kids”. A young boy was asked by the programme makers if he was looking forward to the long school holidays ahead, and he replied no, because he wouldn’t enjoy a hot meal during that time. Believing that no child should go hungry, Rachel was inspired to set up Make Lunch in her own community in Luton.
Cate and Matthew Hall from Trinity Life Church in Royston heard about the initiative and launched Make Lunch in Royston in 2015. They work with first and middle schools throughout the town to identify families needing extra support during the holidays, and, until Covid hit, ran a Make Lunch Club during the school holidays at The Old Bull Inn in Royston, which included lunch, crafts and games, all supported by a team of willing volunteers to help run the sessions.
Covid of course put a stop to that, but not to the initiative, and since the summer they have delivered food and activity parcels to registered families instead.
Each family receives a Meal Kit, containing everything to create two healthy meals from scratch, including recipe cards with tasty meals such as spaghetti bolognaise and chicken fajitas, and enough ingredients to feed the whole family. There’s also a craft activity to enjoy! Sometimes, there are additional treats, generously provided by local businesses: during October half term, families have received rainbow biscuits, a Costa voucher and party bags.
Make Lunch supports families in Royston and over a 3-mile radius of the town, including Bassingbourn, Litlington, Guilden and Steeple Morden, Melbourn, Meldreth, Therfield, Kelshall, Barley, Barkway and Reed. Eligible families are referred by their schools, but during this time of extra need, it is also possible to self-refer if you feel you should qualify for such support. Self referrals can be made via Facebook. To date, over 100 local families have been supported by Make Lunch.
How can we as a community help?
As you can imagine, such a service takes considerable time to co-ordinate, and Make Lunch are fortunate to have their own administrator, Louise Bradley. Louise organises the menus and purchases the ingredients for each meal kit, so they are made up to fit each family’s needs. Therefore, food donations are not required, but if you have something special that could be donated to all families, please
get in touch. For example, Mandy at Tescos was able to provide the vegetables for one of the recent meal kits, and a baker created a huge batch of rainbow biscuits.
Primarily though, the main way that the community can help is through funding; that way Make Lunch can spend the money on what they know the families are in need of.
If you would like to make a financial donation to Make Lunch, they ask for donations via bank transfer: Name: Trinity Life Church
Number: 43657876 Sort-code: 20-17-20
Please note that Trinity Life Church oversees the Make Lunch project. However Make Lunch is a protected fund and any donations received will and can only be used by Make Lunch. It is especially important that you use ‘MAKE LUNCH’ as your payment reference when making a bank transfer.
If you are a customer of Hello Fresh or Gousto, please consider donating your empty boxes to help pack up the Meal Kits!
A number of local organisations have helped fund the project so far, including Johnson Matthey, who also organise a Sponsor a Child/present scheme at Christmas, the Brian Leslie Racher Trust, Churches Together, NHDC, Royston Town Council and The Old Bull Inn.