A charity in Lincoln provided 80 healthy meals in just one hour as it began supplying free school meals for children — and it’s only just getting started.
Abbey Access Training has been busy making hot food for children entitled to the free school meals scheme at the Arboretum Cafe on Monks Road.
The charity will be providing meals for families of Monks Abbey School pupils to collect twice a week, with help from funding courtesy of Bishop Grosseteste University.
On the first day of the offer (Thursday, January 14) the cafe reported 80 meals collected in just one hour, with many more still expected in the coming weeks.
Sharon Emms from the charity said they will be making healthy, nutritious meals for children for the next six weeks.
She said: “We are ensuring all meals are packed full of vegetables which are low in salt and have no sugar or artificial ingredients added.
“Everything is made from scratch and we are handing out two meals to last two days, plus fresh fruit.”
Large lasagnes and bolognese meals were made by volunteers at Abbey Access Training before being packed away and arranged for collections.
Ingredients were donated by supermarket Asda, as well as the Lincoln Community Larder (food bank) and Bookers.
It comes as a direct response to criticism of the government’s external school meal provider Chartwells, whose food hampers came under scrutiny for their £30 price tag.
#FreeSchoolMeals On the left £30 of food. On the right what private company Chartwells have supplied having been awarded a government contract to supply for £30 free school meals.
Utterly shameful profiteering off some of the country's most disadvantaged kids! pic.twitter.com/XcmUm8qM1h
— MunchBunch (@Munchbunch87) January 11, 2021
Premier League footballer Marcus Rashford also joined in the debate, calling the photos that emerged online “unacceptable” in his battle to end child food poverty.
Where is this being rolled out?
If families are entitled to £30 worth of food, why is there delivery only equating to just over £5?! 1 child or 3, this what they are receiving? Unacceptable https://t.co/SNblZ1wl5P
— Marcus Rashford MBE (@MarcusRashford) January 11, 2021
This has since prompted a response from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who spoke with Rashford on the phone telling him that an investigation into the hampers has taken place.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson has now said that families would be offered vouchers instead of the hampers as of next week.
Arboretum Cafe has put out an appeal to anyone who may need help to provide hot meals for their children.
“Please do not struggle, email us now [email protected] and we will work our hardest to make sure that no one is left behind in this time of need.”