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A story from TLG’s Make Lunch club member

The school holidays are a source of joy for many pupils who relish the chance to relax and spend time with friends away from school. For an increasing number of children and families across the country, however, the school holidays can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety, as struggling families who rely on the vital lifeline of free school lunches face the prospect of weeks without regular meals.

We’re highlighting one story from a single mum who utilises the TLG Make Lunch Clubs to provide her children with nutritious meals during the school holidays, without which, would have left the family facing weeks of food insecurity.

TLG Make Lunch clubs

To help ensure that struggling families are supported during the school holidays, not-for-profit charity TLG (Transforming Lives for Good) created their TLG Make Lunch programme to equip churches across the UK to bring hope to these families through holiday lunch clubs.

Each club offers free, hot, and healthy meals to children and families who would otherwise face food insecurity during the school holidays. The TLG Make Lunch clubs are available to any family in need and provide a safe place to visit during the school break, where families can connect and access nutritious, hot meals.

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TLG Make Lunch member story

For one TLG Make Lunch member and her children, the school holidays were a time of anxiety and uncertainty.

“I worry a lot as I struggle to get food in for my kids. Every day I wake up worried that social services are going to come knocking on my door to take away my kids because I haven’t been able to feed them.”

In addition to these worries about where the food would come from, her children also found it hard to see their Mum struggling.

“I do worry a lot about food not being in the cupboards as much as we used to have. It’s been very hard for me to see Mum struggle,” says the daughter of the Make Lunch member.

Thankfully, one of the churches in this Make Lunch member’s town had partnered with TLG to run a TLG Make Lunch club, allowing her and her kids to receive free hot meals in the holidays.

“It took me a while to walk in. In fact, I was going to turn away. I find it hard to be around new people. But as soon as I walked in, Tim, who helps run the club, started chatting to me, and we’ve been coming ever since!”

TLG Make Lunch has not only fed this family, who would have struggled during the school holidays, but it has offered so much more. “The people here, they don’t judge you. They talk to you. If you are upset about something, they listen to you. It’s become like a family.”

“I like lunch club because it means I’m not mithering for food and saying I’m hungry. We make friends and do fun activities like painting. It makes me happy because we get really lovely food.” - Son of Make Lunch member.

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In addition to their TLG Make Lunch Clubs, throughout 2020, TLG partnered with 244 community-based centres to deliver 37,226 TLG Boxes of Hope - emergency care packages containing food and essential toiletries and fun activities with an emphasis on emotional wellbeing for children and families.

As of 2020, TLG had:

  • TLG had delivered over 835,336 equivalent meals to children and their families who were struggling the most and at risk of food insecurity shortly after the first lockdown
  • Worked with partner churches to provide over 120,000 meals in more than 100 locations across the UK since Make Lunch began
  • Supported 15,006 children supported through core programmes and TLG Boxes of Hope initiative
  • Provided 677,108 meals through the TLG Boxes of Hope, emergency care packages
  • Operated 400 TLG community-based centres
  • Trained 1240 people in TLG’s newly devised ‘Emotional First Aid’ training to respond to signs of emotional distress and trauma

CRB Cunninghams support

With over 200,000 children registered for free school meals in the UK alone, according to government figures, CRB Cunninghams is proud to support TLG to help reduce food insecurity during the school holidays.

In 2020, we donated £5,000 to enable TLG to open, train and resource two new TLG Make Lunch centres in new communities. These new clubs have supported and continue to support the most disadvantaged children and their families, providing hot, nutritious meals alongside fun activities addressing both food poverty and the poverty of social exclusion.

“TLG are so grateful for the support of CRB Cunninghams in helping us to support the most disadvantaged children and families during this terrible time. The practical support and kindness showed by local communities as they deliver our TLG Boxes of Hope makes a huge impact on families" many of whom are facing multiple pressures exacerbated by the pandemic.

The food provided is essential, but the relief and the knowledge that people care is also really appreciated. It is so rewarding to see the smiles on the children’s faces as they receive fruit, treats and activities, as well as the main meals.

Thank you for enabling TLG to bring hope and a future to struggling children when it is needed the most." - Steph Walker, Key Relationships Manager at TLG.

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The impact of COVID-19 on food insecurity

Struggles faced because of COVID-19 has highlighted the vital service that schools deliver, particularly to families who rely on free school meals. For too many pupils, their free school meal is their only hot meal for the day, especially as parents faced financial insecurity, reduced income and unemployment due to the pandemic.

According to a report published by the Hackney Migrant Centre in April 2020, they found that 15.4% of school children in England received free school meals (as of 2018), yet 30% of children in the UK are living in poverty, which has increased during the pandemic. The report also found that “thousands of extremely vulnerable children remain without free school meals and will continue to do so across the school holidays, a time of increased financial pressure.”

This uncertainty creates a sense of dread around the school holidays for many parents, which has only worsened throughout COVID-19, as government figures show that there has been a 17.3% increase in pupils eligible for FSMs, compared to January 2020.

Whilst the effects of COVID-19 are significantly reducing and schools remain open, the issue of food insecurity remains, and TLG’s Make Lunch clubs require support.

Visit www.tlg.org.uk/get-involved/how-your-support-helps to see how you can get involved and help tackle food insecurity.