Wednesday, October 24, 2012


A return to my much neglected blog to tell you about Lunch.

In the summer of 2011 I watched a documentary about children living in poverty in the UK. It changed my life. That's a much overused phrase, but this time it really did. I've put the story below but the short version is that in summer 2011 we saw three community groups open centres to serve meals during school holidays for children who'd get free school meals in term time. We served over 300 meals that summer, and grew that to over 3000 meals in 13 locations across the UK in summer 2012. And it's still growing. All the previous locations are planning to open again and even this week I've had enquiries from at least 4 potential new teams.

If you want to know more, or are moved by the video above or the story below, do get in touch, or head on over to the Lunch website where you'll find information on how to get involved.

Here's the story:
On 7th June 2011, the BBC screened a documentary called Poor Kids. Made by Jezza Neumann at TrueVision, the programme showed what life is like for the 3.5million children who live in poverty in the UK. Three children from different areas of the country were the narrators, covering various aspects of life including housing, income, holidays and food.

If you missed Poor Kids when it was on I'd really recommend you check it out. You can watch the trailer at the TrueVision TV website and order the DVD there if you want to see more.

Sam, Paige and Courtney's honest account of life was moving and hugely challenging. It's hard to watch children facing difficulties and not be left feeling that something must be done to change things. But 3.5 million children is no small number, and it's the tip of the iceberg, representing families who are struggling with debt, unemployment, addiction... the list is endless. There's no one simple problem here, not one single reason for all these instances of child poverty and therefore no simple solution.

During the programme, 8 year old Courtney shows us what's in her fridge - a bottle of milk, some margarine and 2 bottles of medicine. Later she talks about what she eats during the day:

Courtney: For dinner we have a big version of a sausage roll

Interviewer: What about breakfast?
C: Nowt. Cos I sometimes forget to make myself some toast or something or we're going to be late for school.

I: Do you ever go without lunch?
C: I go without dinner when I'm at home but when I'm at school I get dinner. I have tea when I'm at home but I sometimes go without dinner because my mum hasn't got enough money and she owes people money.

According to the documentary, 1 in 5 children from low income families say they sometimes go without food. Children from single parent families are twice as likely to miss meals.

Later on in the programme, 11 year old Sam tells us that he's recently started receiving free meals at school. He says it's a good thing because he's getting fed, but the pressure on the family increases during holiday time as his dad has to find £10 extra per week just to feed him. This is true for Sam and many other families - school holidays mean time off school, but bring additional struggles in terms of providing childcare whilst the parent is working, not having enough money to take the children to activities and having to find extra money for food.

It's these simple stories from Paige and Sam that have inspired Lunch. Lunch aims to see the 1.2 million children who receive free meals at school fed during school holidays by local community groups. It's not going to solve the whole problem of child poverty in the UK, but feeding children who might otherwise be hungry during the holidays seems like a good place to start.


  1. Hi Rach, hope you don't mind that I have embedded the video and copied your blog post about it into my blog linked to you and the Make a lunch website. Let me know if you'd prefer it if I did it a different way.x

  2. I found this via Kezzie. I had no idea that this was such an issue. Lunch is a fabulous idea, I'm not sure what I can do to help but I'll be looking in to it.



Sometimes I do go on...