As reported by the BBC, the Reach2 trust is going to put “community fridges” in its schools to provide food for families who otherwise would not be able to afford it
The project is being launched in five schools in the east of England, with the aim of expanding to all of the trust’s 60 primary schools.
Sir Steve Lancashire, Reach2’S CEO said: “We often hear about children going to school hungry because their families simply cannot afford to provide them with the food that they would want to. To think that this is happening in 2019 is heartbreaking,”
He said the problem is “very widespread” in the deprived areas where many of the trust’s schools are located.
“The demands on families are rising, but wages are low, work can be hard to come by – and life is complex,” said Lancashire.
There have been growing numbers of schools providing food to parents in need – with the National Governance Association reporting last month that eight per cent of governors were in schools which were operating food banks.
This latest project will see the biggest academy group in the primary sector offering free food in its schools, using fridges donated by the manufacturer Amica.
The food will include surplus school meals and food approaching its use-by date, such as fruit, cheese, eggs, vegetables and yoghurts.
“Every week school kitchens have to discard food,” said Lancashire. But he hopes the community fridges will put the food to better use in tackling “family hunger”.
It will begin this week with Reach2’s primary schools in Colchester and Clacton in Essex and Ipswich, Beccles and Lowestoft in Suffolk.
Unity primary academy, near Colchester, is one of the schools piloting the food scheme – and its co-head Lucy Williams says it is a response to a daily problem.
“More and more people are relying on food banks,” she said.
When children come to school without having eaten, she said, it affects their behaviour, “making terrible decisions and not able to focus”.
For anyone doubting that children really are not being fed, she said: “Come and spend a day at school. There could be different reasons for hunger, but many people face challenges that put a strain on what’s available at home.”
The community fridges project, she hopes, will mean that “families won’t have to worry about hunger”.