More than one thousand children in Blackburn and Darwen are currently receiving a daily free lunchbox during the school holidays thanks to the efforts of a team of community organisations in the area.
And the scheme has been praised by the Bishop of Blackburn, Rt Rev Julian Henderson.
The local Christian community, including Methodists and Anglicans, are working together to support the scheme under the umbrella of Kingdom Outreach, a Christian charity providing practical support and solutions to those in need regardless of age, race, gender and religion which aims to encourage personal worth and empower people to make better life choices.
Kingdom Outreach is also joined by Blackburn with Darwen Council, Children’s’ Centres, Great Places and Together Lancashire who have all come together in partnership to help families struggling to make ends meet with a scheme that is the biggest of its kind in the country.
The Council has also produced a short video about the initiative.
Bishop Julian said: “Our Diocesan Vision 2026 is about healthy churches transforming communities and there can be no better community initiative than this one which provides a square meal for a young person who may go hungry without during the school holidays. I congratulate everyone involved."
Summer holidays promise so much, but can be a real challenge to many families. How do they afford a holiday or days out, new school uniforms? Who is going to look after the kids when parents have to work – and how much will it all cost?
Coordinator of the scheme, Kat Zaman of Kingdom Outreach, said: “We have 1080 children registered with their local children’s centre to receive a lunchbox during the summer holidays.”
“There are lots of family fun activities going on during the collection sessions, and it’s all free for the families.”
The lunchbox scheme has been financed by Big Local, Great Places and Kingdom Outreach, and contributions to the cost are still welcome – you can give via the Kingdom Outreach or Together Lancashire Facebook pages. Each lunch costs £1 each to produce and includes a sandwich, fruit, a drink and a cereal.
Gillian Beeley Together Lancashire Development Coordinator for East Lancashire, added: “This is the first year that the project has run and the team is delighted that so many partners have come forward to help. It takes a village to bring up a child – and that is exactly what is happening here in Blackburn with Darwen!
The Archdeacon of Blackburn, The Venerable Mark Ireland, is one of many people who have helped pack lunches as part of the scheme.
He said today “I am full of admiration for the vision of Kat Zaman, the local churches and others who have helped set up this fantastic project. It was great to be able to get involved in packing the lunches recently and I saw at first hand the dedication of all the people involved.
“It is a tragedy that in a borough like this there should be a thousand hungry children, but this is an example of churches serving their communities and showing the love of Christ in this very practical way."