Lowestoft South Salvation Army on Carlton Road served 135 free two-course lunches over the summer to families struggling to make ends meet.
The church worked in partnership with Lowestoft Community Church with support from Lowestoft’s Trussell Trust food bank.
The popular ‘Food in the School Holidays’ project was started in Lowestoft by Gunton Baptist Church and has grown in recent years. This summer, a free breakfast or lunch was provided each day Monday to Friday thanks to additional provision from The Salvation Army’s churches on Carlton Road and Battery Green Road, Lowestoft Community Church and London Road Baptist Church.
Major Jenny Barwise, who leads The Salvation Army in Kirkley, south Lowestoft, said:
“The summer is an expensive time. Families that usually benefit from free school meals have an extra cost and if parents are working, then they may need to pay for childcare. There’s also the additional expense of school uniform and shoes to think about when term starts again.”
The meals are available for families with school-aged children in need of support. There are no set criteria or proof required to receive a free meal.
Rebecca, 40, has attended the Friday lunches at The Salvation Army and the Tuesday breakfasts provided by Lowestoft Community Church at Red Oak Primary School with her two children throughout the summer.
“I didn’t think we would be eligible because we are a working-parent-family but we literally live week by week and month by month. We don’t have savings.”
Rebecca described how The Salvation Army and Lowestoft Community Church offered more than just basic meals:
“It’s all healthy food and afterwards there are crafts for the children and one day there was a video with popcorn. It’s a long summer so it gives us something to do in the community, another reason to meet up with people.”
It’s clear that the team behind the scenes wants the meals to create a space for families to build relationships and be part of supportive network.
Major Jenny added:
“We don’t want families to feel like they’re receiving a hand out, though we don’t expect anything in return. We want them to spend some quality time together and meet new people.
“We all sit and eat together and these shared tables offer the opportunity for parents to chat about things that might be troubling them such as the highs and lows of parenting during the long summer holidays. We’ve also been able to share tips for cooking on a budget. We’re a community together.”
‘Food in the School Holidays’ will return in October half term. If you would like to donate, volunteer, or know someone who would benefit from this service then more information can be found via facebook.com/lowestoftfish.