More than 700 ingredient boxes a week will be delivered to families across west Cheshire as communities continue to pull together during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This project is part of a holiday activity fund which provides free nutritious food and activities at a wide range of holiday clubs over the summer.
Cllr Louise Gittins, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council and Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, said: “This remains a difficult and unprecedented time, and we know that there are families in our communities who are struggling financially.
“This project ensures that those families will receive food boxes full of the ingredients they need to create lunches each week.
“It is also yet another fantastic example of how charitable, voluntary and community groups, grassroots groups and neighbourhoods are working with the Council and its partners, all of us playing our part to look after each other during this uncertain time.”
A hallmark of the borough’s response to the pandemic is the way that communities have rallied, with many new groups being set up alongside existing community groups and foodbanks to make sure that every resident is able to access the food they need.
Cheshire West and Chester Council is working with these groups to support this response, including helping to establish a food hub in Winsford, which offers additional food to groups.
This hub, led by social enterprise Changing Lives Together and The Welcome Network, which brings together community groups, charities and local government agencies to reduce food poverty, is delivering the food boxes to families to help those community groups who cannot offer their usual face-to-face holiday lunch services.
Cllr Gittins said: “The hub is filling a vital gap for groups who don’t have the space or resources on this scale, particularly during a time when a lot of food is being delivered to people’s doors.
“The work in our communities has been fantastic and this resource enhances what these groups are already doing as well as filling a gap while people can’t meet face-to-face in the same way.”
Holiday provision in west Cheshire is funded through the Department for Education’s Holiday Activity Fund and led by Edsential in partnership with the Council, Cheshire West Voluntary Action and The Welcome Network. Edsential is a community interest company jointly owned by Cheshire West and Chester and Wirral councils which aims to change children’s lives through its services for children, headteachers, governors and parents.
As part of the holiday provision, community groups and organisations are also providing craft and activity packs and ideas for families to enjoy in their homes and local area.
Cllr Robert Cernik, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: “Families across west Cheshire will be able to enjoy free nutritious food and a range of activities at holiday clubs across the borough over the summer holidays, at a time when such provision for young people and their families is needed more than ever.”
Cllr Mandy Clare, Leader’s Champion for Poverty and Inequality, said: “The last few weeks have been so hard on families and, if you have managed to struggle through this far, we salute you for keeping going.
“As part of our programme of support to families, we are so pleased that we can work with Edsential and our partners to provide more than 100 free holiday club opportunities for kids to let off steam and have some fun.
“We’re committed, as a Council, to doing our best to make things easier for families where we can and want to thank our partners at Edsential for leading on this vital work during the summer holidays.”
For more information about holiday provision visit: edsential.com/holidayactivityfund2020
To share your pictures and stories from summer holiday clubs visit: www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/inspire-cheshirewest.
The Welcome Network and food poverty charity Feeding Britain are funding a food coordinator to work with community groups in to understand what additional food is needed and develop links with fellow charity FareShare, which stops good food going to waste and redistributes it to frontline charities.
The Welcome Network is also developing a Feeding West Cheshire strategy to ensure that all elements of community food provision are linked together, both in the community and voluntary sector and across the Council’s work.
For more information about the work of The Welcome Network to tackle food poverty in west Cheshire visit: welcomenet.co.uk.