Churches support families with holiday hunger and beyond

Churches and their volunteers have been working hard across Medway, north and west Kent and the London Boroughs of Bromley and Bexley, to support those facing hunger during the holidays.

For many churches, it is a continuation of support they have been offering throughout the pandemic.

At St Philip's Church, Sherwood in Tunbridge Wells, over 75 children's meals were given away in just one day during the half term, thanks to a collaboration with local restaurants in the area. 

The meals are part of a regular offer by the church, as Lisa, the Children's Pastor at St Philip's, explains:

"We would have loved to be able to get a team to prepare meals for school holidays, but our kitchen is just not up to the task, so having the food already prepared and delivered by the local restaurants is perfect.

"We then give them away at the Community larder which started in March in response to Lockdown and the increased need for food in our community."

The Community Larder helps families in Tunbridge Wells access nutritious, surplus food and, says Lisa, has inspired other local churches in the area:

"Since setting up the Larder, four more churches have visited us and gone on to set up something similar in their own church over the last few months, which is really helping Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and soon to be Southborough too."

Taking to social media

Many churches took to social media to remind people how they could access their regular church food bank, community kitchen, or hardship fund.

Churches like those part of the Benefice of Yalding with Laddingford and Collier Street:

Over at St Gabriel’s, Kings Hill, they have been providing food parcels for individuals and families - on or associated to Kings Hill - whose income has been drastically reduced because of the coronavirus crises, or are struggling due to a reduction in free school meals or benefits, since the start of the pandemic.

Following their reminder message on Facebook at the start of the holidays, encouraging no one to 'suffer in silence', they were overwhelmed by offers of support, as well as requests for help, and are now working their way through those who made contact:

Having heard the concerns regarding children going hungry during school holidays, St Margaret's Church in Rainham made a commitment to ensure everyone in the Parish of Rainham got the support they needed with food.

As well as arranging emergency food parcels, they are now working to identify local Covid-safe venues where meals can be served to those in need.

They have set up a JustGiving page for anyone who would like to contribute financially to support the efforts, as well as point people to the Sparable app (https://spareable.co.uk/) where they can donate to Medway Foodbank.

The Rev Nathan Ward, vicar of St Margaret's said: "It's not just about kids, it’s about families, single men, single women, it’s about the elderly who might be too scared to go out to shop, we’re here and we will support all of these people.'

Thanking their communities

Churches have also been keen to thank their supporters as well, as it through their generous donations that church-run food banks and community larders are made possible:

At the Living Well in Bromley, where they provide a free Community Lunch every Friday, alongside their food bank, they paid tribute to their 'local heroes' on twitter:

"We want thank our wonderful local community. We had so many local heroes show up with bags/boots/hands full of food.

"We are grateful for every donation and it goes straight to those who need it the most."




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