MakeLunch Holiday Lunch Club

Would you rather eat chocolate or cheese? Do you prefer jelly or ice cream? What’s better: sausages or chicken?

These are the kind of questions we throw around the lunch table at Lunch Club. My fellow guests, as you might have guessed, are mostly primary school aged children – with the exception of a fellow volunteer.

We eat together, on average, every six weeks during the school holidays. Usually following a fierce game of Dobble, some serious craft-making or (in my case) defeat at table football.

Lunch Club is one of the 70+ Lunch Kitchens that make up the MakeLunch network. MakeLunch exists to equip churches, community groups, schools and local authorities to tackle holiday hunger.

What do we mean by holiday hunger?

In the UK, 1.2 million children are eligible for Free School Meals. But when school stops for the holidays, so does the food. For families who are struggling financially anyway, the end of term brings with it added pressure and the risk of hunger and isolation.

The report ‘Isolation and Hunger: the reality of school holidays for struggling parents’ showed that 1 in 3 of the low-income parents that were surveyed had skipped a meal so their children could eat during the holidays.

In communities across the UK, MakeLunch is not just a place for free, hot and healthy food. It’s also a place where community is built and relationships flourish.

Lunch Club, like many of the Lunch Kitchens across the UK, is hugely popular in the community. When the time comes for the kids to come in, there are happy faces waiting at the door, excited to burst over the threshold, launch into the fun and get stuck into the food.

How does MakeLunch help?

For many families who attend, Lunch Kitchens are not just about meeting a physical need.

They provide a safe, welcoming place to go in the school holidays, when very little else is available that doesn’t have a price tag attached to it. One of our Lunch Makers recently told us: ‘One mum says that coming here is the only time she gets out with her son in the school holidays.’

A recent report from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger (‘Hungry Holidays: A report on hunger amongst children during school holidays‘) collated data and evidence from across the country about holiday hunger and what is being done tackle this issue.

The report summarises that:
“The inquiry has been presented with evidence of three main advantages – financial, educational, and in physical and mental health – that add an important element of happiness to the lives of those families who are supported by projects that seek to address hunger amongst children during school holidays.

Each of these advantages improves children’s quality of life, as well as their chances of growing up to become healthy, well- educated adults, while simultaneously increasing parents’ confidence and adding to their skills base.”

Since it started in 2011, the MakeLunch network has served over 50,000 meals and by this summer, will have over 80 partners across the country. We couldn’t be prouder of the efforts made by the committed teams who are taking on the battle against holiday hunger.

Yet, there is still more to be done. Holiday meal provision is sporadic and there are huge gaps in our network.

So, would you rather eat chocolate or cheese? Could you speak to your local church or school about starting to serve a meal in the school holidays? How will you join us in the fight against holiday hunger?

And finally, do you prefer jelly or ice cream?

More about MakeLunch

If you want to get in touch with MakeLunch and find out how you could help to tackle holiday hunger, email hannah@makelunch.org.uk or see the MakeLunch website.

Thanks to Hannah from the MakeLunch Network for this story. Images used with permission.

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