Hayling Holiday Lunches
In 2016/2017 there was an item on the radio about an organisation called Make Lunch which highlighted the problem that families face when their children receive free school meals in term time, but in the holidays have to be provided for with no additional financial help. The term ‘holiday hunger’ was used. A group of us in the church we were attending at that time believed that there was a similar need on Hayling Island and we wanted to do something to help. We knew there was a Food Bank on the Island and also that in our schools a large percentage of children were in receipt of free school meals.
Make Lunch (now part of TLG) provided training which enabled churches throughout the country to provide hot meals and activities for children who found themselves in challenging circumstances. However, we really felt that God was speaking to us, and leading us towards helping these families by delivering food directly to their homes. We wrote to all the schools on the island, asking them to pass on our letter offering groceries to any family in receipt of free meals, or that the school could identify as potentially benefitting from our project. In the summer of 2017 we helped 9 families; this grew in the next year to 25, then 36. Today we are delivering to 65 families!
Three of the original group who started the project now run it. All are in attendance at HIBC, and many of the congregation here assist with donations and deliveries. God has truly blessed us by growing the number of familes we are able to help and by providing food donations. These come from all the churches on Hayling and also through the wider community leaving donations in the boxes at Lidl, the Co-op, and the Lions Community shop. Our fundraising has seen generous donations from the Lions Club and the Businessmen’s Club, in addition to many from individuals and other organisations. These funds are used to purchase additional tinned goods and fresh food – bread, cheese, ham, yogurt, and fruit. This allows us to bless each family with a bag of tinned and dry groceries in addition to a bag of fresh food once a week during the holidays. These are delivered with the help of a delivery team from this and other churches.
In December 2020, at the start of the school holidays we delivered bags of groceries and Christmas chocolates and treats to 69 families, who opted through their schools to benefit from our project (supporting families with children who would normally receive free school meals in term time and other families who may be struggling in these difficult times). When we began in 2017 there was no government help available and we have, over time, lobbied our MP and supported other campaigns to change this. Thankfully, when Marcus Rashford added his voice, minds were changed and vouchers were provided at Christmas and for half term. As we have such generous support in what we are doing from our churches and the wider community we have decided to carry on with our deliveries alongside the voucher scheme. We had food donated
* by individuals to our home (18 Chichester Avenue)
* in the box at the CoOp in Elm Grove,
* from Hayling College (pictured right)
* from the Community Centre.
In addition we used donated money to buy extra supplies, fresh food from Sainsburys, and fruit from Hayling Fruiterers. All of this was taken by our delivery team to each family’s home.
We should like to thank everyone who has generously donated and enabled us to bring some Christmas cheer at the end of an exceptional year. We are continuing to collect for our half term and Easter holiday deliveries in 2021.
David & Sarah Smith and Samantha White