With 8.4 million people struggling with food insecurity, the UK has one of the highest rates of food poverty in Europe. Covid-19 has only made things worse. Those most at risk are families on the lowest incomes, people from the BAME communities, and people with disabilities.
- No child should go hungry
- Food support for working families
- Healthy, fresh food in Oasis Academies
- Free school meals in the school holidays
- Foodbanks, community pantries and social supermarkets in Oasis Hubs
Oasis works in low income areas where as many as 59% of families live below the poverty line, affecting the lives of 30,000 young people. About half of these are entitled to school lunches but when these stop, as schools close, parents are under enormous pressure to find money for extra meals.
Parents often skip meals themselves or live off cereal so their children can eat. Children as young as five are at risk of going hungry.
We launched the Plate Up campaign in 2019 to provide children with a free daily lunch in the holidays, plus fun activities such as sports, crafts and music as well as cookery. There were also activities and outings for the whole family.
‘The holidays are so tough,’ said one parent at Oasis Hub Warndon, ‘but at the club I was able to play with my children and enjoy making food together. It made a big difference to me.’
The impact of Covid-19 meant we had to substantially re-think Plate Up for 2020.
Footballer, Marcus Rashford, successfully petitioned the UK government to extend free school meal vouchers over the summer school holidays, but demand from other groups for help with food supplies soared.
Our Community Hubs and our foodbanks began cooking meals delivered alongside thousands of food parcels. British Gas lent delivery vans and in one Hub, Park Plaza hotel loaned us space to cook and pack 24,000 meals. We joined with churches, local councils, corporates and other charities to meet the need.
At short notice, we were able to organise ‘Summer Sessions’ in 22 locations – a Covid-compliant version of our Plate Up holiday clubs, serving 32,000 picnic and takeaway lunches and offering socially distanced activities.
Covid-19 has lifted the lid on the hidden extent of food poverty in the UK and has driven the subject to the top of our agenda. Until the emergency is over we will continue to:
- Run Plate Up-style holiday hunger clubs in every school holiday
- Batch cook freezer-ready meals and deliver them every week in our Hubs
- Run expanded community pantries
- Run our Waterloo Foodbank which has expanded by 300% to meet demand
- Set up ‘social supermarkets’ where for a small fee people can choose their own low price food items
FabFood run by Oasis Hub Foundry and Boulton in Birmingham is a food project with a difference. It aims to give choice for local families in need – not the same meals over and over.
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