3.5 million children are living in poverty. Where? Right here in the UK. Despite being one of the wealthiest nations in the world, one out of four children in the UK are not guaranteed food on a daily basis. Countless parents are battling with the burden of juggling household finances with very little to work with. With inflation – more specifically food prices – rising at a quicker rate than the average wage, as well as the welfare system causing instability in the expenses of those households worse off, simply providing three basic meals a day for their children becomes unrealistic. Needless to say, during the school holidays, the cost to provide for their children becomes too heavy for some parents to handle. On average, a household would require an extra £10 to feed the extra meal which children usually receive free at school – lunch.
MakeLunch is dedicated to give these parents the extra hand (or the extra meal to be exact) by offering lunch, which parents during the school year do not usually have to worry about as they are provided free by the government. The organisation has set up Lunch Kitchens across the nation, to communities where there are many families of low income. The kitchens are open on either a daily or weekly basis during the school holidays, offering a free hot meal to children.
Recently, it has become clear that even free school meals provided by the government are becoming too expensive to handle with 1.2 million children registered for free school meals.
Instead of the annual dread that children may have of the quality, or even the quantity of food that may or may not be available to them during what should be the most anticipated time of their year, MakeLunch ensures hot, tasty meals with really big portions. MakeLunch ‘Lunch Kitchens’ are entirely voluntarily based – local residents, who care about their community, work together, to ‘provide what they can when they can’. The most recent kitchen opened in Oswaldtwistle, which provides lunch for children every Tuesday. MakeLunch are a charity that rely on awareness of their work – encouraging people to spread the word that the charity exists so that people who need them can benefit from the food, and people who know their community needs that help can start a Lunch Kitchen.
Generally, foodbanks and lunch charities have exposed the true reality of poverty in the UK. In an article earlier on this year, the BBC said that in 2013-2014 foodbanks fed over 913,000 people nationwide, of which 330,000 were children, according to the statistics by the Trussel Trust, the largest foodbank provider in the UK. In the past year alone there has been a 51% rise in people visiting foodbanks and lunch charities simply to keep their stomachs filled for one more day. Foodbanks and lunch charities, such as MakeLunch, have taken on the difficult task of doing their bit to tackle the immediate problem that has overwhelmed the families living in extreme poverty – feeding their children. And these foodbanks are working together to reach an even bigger national goal of ending child poverty by 2020, promised by the government as enacted in the Child Poverty Act.
That one extra meal lifts the extra financial pressure parents experience during holidays, making this charity truly inspiring. Poverty can have long-term effects on children; statistics show that children who belong to families that struggle to bring food to the table everyday, perform worse at school, and have long-lasting effects on children mentally and emotionally. Therefore, MakeLunch are not only providing that extra meal of lunch to feed that child for the day, but also giving parents the chance to give their children opportunities that they could not otherwise give. In helping children in this way, MakeLunch are bringing communities together to work in numbers to fill the stomachs of children, and give them the summer holiday they truly deserve.