St Matthews Big Local are working to support children and families in our community, by providing 350 free meals per week to children during the summer holidays
The summer holidays can be a difficult time for low-income families and their children. Many parents rely on free school meals to feed their children. This means that during the summer holidays a significant number of children go without food. That’s why St Matthews Big Local is one of many organisations from across Leicester, who are coming together to tackle this issue. The ‘Holiday Food and Fun’ project, running across the city, aims to ensure that children can enjoy free food and fun activities during the summer holidays.
Cllr Sarah Russell, Deputy City Mayor responsible for Social Care and Anti-Poverty, said “It’s estimated that three million children in the UK are at risk of going hungry in the school holidays, with the long summer break hitting families particularly hard. Last year, with the support of our partners and funding from the Department for Education, we were able to provide 30,000 lunches to specific areas of the city, which we know made a huge difference to many families. This year we won’t receive any government funding, but we are determined to provide the same level of support as we know it’s badly needed. Fortunately, we have some great partners who are committed to making this happen.”
The St Matthews Estate is one of the most deprived estates in the country. 503 children aged 0-15 in St Matthews are living in poverty, which is 28% of the total population. We want to make sure that no child on the St Matthews goes hungry. After a successful Holiday Hunger programme last year, we aim to provide 350 meals per week to children this summer. This will come from a mixture of hot meals provided via our lunch clubs, as well as a brunch club which will provide cereals and toast to children who so desperately need it.
Based on a budget of just £2 per child, this project will cost St Matthews Big Local around £3,800. Due to a lack of government funding, Leicester City Council their partners and Central England C0-OP have also kindly given us some funding to run this project. This funding will only cover £2,350 of the total cost of this project, meaning that we will have to contribute a significant amount of our charity funds.
Liz Kendall, MP for Leicester West and Chair of Leicester’s ‘Feeding Leicester’ Committee said “I am extremely disappointed that the government has failed to provide us with funding for our Holiday Hunger programme this year. However, every organisation that is part of Feeding Leicester is determined to ensure that as many children as possible are able to access a free meal over the summer holidays and I urge people from across Leicester to back our efforts if they possibly can.”
The limited funding that St Matthews Big Local has received for this project has meant that we have been forced to set up a crowdfunding campaign, in order to cover the £1,450 shortfall.
Simon Johnson, Manager of St Matthews Big Local said “it is a sad state of affairs when we have to crowdfund just to put food in the mouths of children, but we will do what we have to end holiday hunger in our area and today urge anyone who can to head online and support our local community.”
St Matthews Big Local welcomes any donations that individuals or organisations can provide, in order to help us deliver this much-needed project. Anyone who wants to give a donation can do so, by visiting