South Bank Baptist Church offered its premises three times a week for a pilot project that saw more than 200 free packed lunches given to local primary school pupils throughout the summer.
The Lunch Box Project came about via the Redcar Area Foodbank, for which the church is a distribution point, and in conjunction with South Bank Primary School.
The school referred the pupils who had received free school lunches in the previous academic year and were thought to need extra support through the holidays.
The church was asked to open up its premises and provide volunteers each Monday, Wednesday and Friday, which it was only too happy to do.
When the children arrived they picked up a brand new lunchbox, and were able to stay and take part in crafts, games and face paintings. When they were ready to leave they could take away a sandwich, bag of crisps, cereal bar, and fruit drink. Parents were invited to stay, and the lunchbox could then be filled on their next visit.
Each session saw between 11 and 21 children pop by, and in total 208 lunches were distributed.
‘The whole church took hold of it,’ said minister Jon Edwards. ‘It’s not something that three or four of us were driving. They wanted to get involved and support and pray for it, and I actually had to turn volunteers away.
'We would struggle to run a more traditional week-long holiday club, but the Lunch Box Project provides a more regular means of supporting local families over the school holidays that is sustainable for us as a church.
‘While it was a lot of fun and had a great impact on us, there’s part of me that thinks it’s dreadful that something like this is needed, where families like this are consistently struggling to feed themselves and their children. It’s a shame there is such an issue; there’s a real issue locally and nationally.
‘Something needs to be done. This is just a small project, a simple project, and it’s the first time we’ve done it. We’re just feeling our way and feel like we’re offering a little bit of help.’