Several parishes across the Diocese of Guildford offer lunches throughout the summer holidays to disadvantaged families to help tackle the problem of ‘holiday hunger’. Some have seen a significant increase in uptake this year; 60% more free packed lunches were collected from the summer lunch club run by HeBrews Coffee Shop at St Paul’s Church in Addlestone.
The Diocese is encouraging funding applications for new ‘holiday hunger’ schemes as part of its Growth Fund. The Growth Fund exists to enable new initiatives in the Diocese of Guildford which further the strategy of Transforming Church, Transforming Lives.
Leatherhead Parish Church and Trinity Children’s Centre were awarded a Growth Fund grant to help with their summer lunch club this year. Holly Barton, Children and Families Development Worker at the church, said:
"We tried in vain to apply for funding from other places and were delighted to receive this support from the Diocese. Many families in the area rely on free school meals and had commented to myself and others how worried they were about being able to provide a 'proper meal' for their children throughout the six week summer holidays. Families have been very grateful for the Summer Lunch Club, giving them a respite from the worry, allowing them to eat as a whole family and appreciating a listening ear."
St Andrew’s Church in Goldsworth Park has joined forces with the charity FoodWise to provide free meals for families once a week during the school summer holidays. The Bishop of Dorking, Jo Wells, paid a visit to one of the events on 21 August and said:
“Fantastic food, fun, games and laughter with new friends, and another party while clearing up. What’s the Kingdom of Heaven like? It’s like the holiday lunch at St Andrew’s! I feel privileged to be here.”
One mother said, “We find it difficult to keep the kids entertained but they love it here. It’s especially great for those of us on low incomes.”
In October St Andrew’s will open their new look ‘pay-as-you-feel’ community café – Andy’s – meaning there will always be a meal, coffee or cake available, whatever budget people are on.