Chorley Foodbank is gearing up to make at least 2,000 pack lunches for school pupils over the summer out of a concern that children might go hungry.
Worried that pupils might not get proper meals over the break without one provided by schools, Living Waters Foodbank volunteer Pat Webb decided to take the matter into her own hands.
To figure out the best way to organise the logistics of the initiative she visited a project in Bolton called Urban Outreach which provides lunches over the summer for students.
“I went to see how they did it and I thought, oh we can do this in Chorley,” said Pat, who is 71.
“Because we volunteer at the Foodbank we are aware of people having a hard time buying food.
“These people who are coming to us really struggle to afford food and they will struggle in the summer as well.
“During the summer if you have three hungry children at home all day it can be a nightmare so the idea grew out of a concern for that.
As of Monday, July 24 and through until Thursday, August 31 volunteers at Living Water Foodbank will make up pack lunches three days a week - on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
School children from Chorley will be able to pick up the pack lunches from either Living Waters Church in Bolton Street, St Peter’s Community Hall in Harper’s Lane or Chorley All Saints’ CoE Primary School and Nursery Unit in Moor Road.
The venues will be staffed between 11am-12pm.
Initially Pat plans on making 160 pack lunches each day split between the three locations.
She will then adjust this according to demand.
Children will need to be accompanied by an adult to pick up a pack lunch which will include a sandwich, a piece of fruit, a drink and a snack.
Deputy head of All Saints’ Charlotte Chadwick said that the whole school staff are pitching in to make sure the rota for the pick up times are covered.
“We wanted to help out the families that comes to our school but also the wider community too.
“Some of our families have maybe three or four children and its costs money over the summer to make lunches so we just wanted to help relieve that burden.
“It also costs money to entertain children and keep them active in the summer months so we’re just keen to make sure that they get a good lunch.”
Pat said: “All the teachers who are volunteering their time are very glad to help.
“They said that they care about the kids and they do sometimes worry about them over the summer holidays.
“It’s the first year we’re doing it so we hope that it will be much bigger next year.”
Organiser of the Foodbank Carol Halton told the Guardian that although the numbers coming to the service have remained the same the number of referrals from schools has increased.
She said: “I was talking to a recently retired teacher the other day and she told me that what some of her students had at their lunchtime was the only meal they were getting in the day.
“If they didn’t get their lunch they wouldn’t be eating that day.”
Amanda Thomas, advice supervisor at Citizens Advice Chorley office said that since April, the office has given out 133 food bank vouchers, of which 91 were for parents with children.
She said: “When school holidays mean no access to free lunches for for a lot of children, this service will be very valuable for so many in the community who are most in need of support.”
Captain Alex Cadogan of the Salvation Army in Preston, which also covers Chorley, Leyland and Garstang, said: “It’s an issue which is reflected nationally.
“We see a greater demand for family food parcels in the summer than we do in the Christmas period.
“Summer is usually a time when donations to the food bank are quite low so it’s a perfect storm in some respects.”
Funding to provide the pack lunches this summer has been donated by Adactus Housing Association in St Thomas’s Road.
For the project to run smoothly Pat needs six volunteers each day. To help out contact Living Waters Foodbank.