Help for families with children’s meals over school holidays
published on 16 Dec 2022
The Salvation Army to support families and feed children over school Christmas holidays
The Salvation Army in Penrith has received local funding to support vulnerable families by providing free meals during the school Christmas break.
The church and charity, located on Hunters Lane, was awarded funding from the Holiday Activity and Food (HAF) Programme at Cumbria Council which it has put towards food supplies for children over the school holidays as families continue to feel the pinch with many gripped by the cost-of-living crisis.
The grant has been used to purchase ingredients for festive food hampers to last families seven days and provide children who receive free school meals with a healthy, balanced and warm meal during what is one of the most expensive school holidays of the year. So far over 300 children have received a hamper.
Each hamper includes enough food supplies to make seven two-course meals for families as well as a menu ideas leaflet. The items will be non-perishable, resulting in less cooking time and saving on energy costs. There will also be festive treats included alongside the hampers.
Major Carole Donaldson, church leader at The Salvation Army in Penrith, has seen the need for support to families grow each year, with this year being the hardest for households in the community on the lowest of incomes. She said: “We see it a lot, the families that haven’t got support when their children aren’t in school. We see the families that are struggling daily as the cost-of-living crisis continues to move at an incredibly fast pace. Combining both with a two-week school holiday when a meal a day for their children would ordinarily be taken care of and paid for, means that many children could suffer if there wasn’t any support on offer.
“We know that sadly for some children a school meal is often the one hot meal they’ll eat all day and if parents can’t afford the rising bills when the children are in school, they’re most definitely going to struggle when the schools are closed for two weeks and their children are at home. We want to be there for those amongst us that are in need of help, and we anticipate we will be busy, with many families struggling this year more than ever as more are finding themselves pushed into poverty.”
The Salvation Army in Penrith is supporting children on a referral basis, working with organisations which include local schools and social services, and referrals will be accepted until Christmas Eve. So far 303 children have been supported. The provision will run in tandem with the Christmas Present Appeal where the church will take donations of new and unwrapped gifts for distribution to families where children wouldn’t otherwise have anything to open on Christmas Day. To read more about the Christmas Present Appeal visit www.salvationarmy.org.uk/christmas-present-appeal.