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There With You: Lower Clapton school delivers free meals to families during coronavirus lockdown

PUBLISHED: 09:57 08 April 2020 | UPDATED: 09:57 08 April 2020

Stormont House School's head chef Charlie Gabriel came to the school in November as part of a charity inititative run by Chefs for Schools. Picture: Grainne Hylton

Stormont House School's head chef Charlie Gabriel came to the school in November as part of a charity inititative run by Chefs for Schools. Picture: Grainne Hylton

Grainne Hylton

A special needs school in Lower Clapton has been working tirelessly to ensure vulnerable and hard to reach Free School Meal families don’t go hungry during the coronavirus lockdown.

School staff and parents have helped to deliver food parcels to about 70 families so far and will be doing collections during the Easter holidays. Picture: Grainne HyltonSchool staff and parents have helped to deliver food parcels to about 70 families so far and will be doing collections during the Easter holidays. Picture: Grainne Hylton

Stormont House School’s staff, parents and head chef Charlie Gabriel started providing free meals to families when school’s shut due to Covid-19 and they will continue to cook them during the Easter holidays in a bid to combat holiday hunger.

The School’s Business Manager Grainne Hylton said: “A couple weeks ago we kept logging on to the government portal and the free school meal portal wasn’t available - It’s only just up now.

So, we were conscious our families would have had nearly two weeks with nothing.”

Last week on April 4, the government announced it would start providing a £15 weekly voucher throughout the Easter holidays to help support households, but Stormont school wanted to do something extra for families.

The school used their own budget before government support was provided to families. During Easter they will still be providing food on top of the £15 vouchers provided by the government during the holidays. Picture: Grainne HyltonThe school used their own budget before government support was provided to families. During Easter they will still be providing food on top of the £15 vouchers provided by the government during the holidays. Picture: Grainne Hylton

Grainne said: “They are getting vouchers from the government now but it’s only £15 a week per child and lots of these families have other children and are desperately in need.”

Volunteers have been dropping off food parcels to all children on the school’s free school meals list and anyone else who needs help.

She told the Gazette: “It’s been really amazing - the response from not just our own staff but also some of the parents volunteering to deliver food for those who can’t get out.”

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We had about 83 families last week and we managed to deliver to about 70 of them.”

The meals are cooked by fully qualified Chef Charlie Gabriel who joined the school through an initiative run by the charity Chefs in Schools. Its goal is to teach kids about food and reduce childhood obesity by ensuring students get a healthy and nutritious, freshly cooked dish every day.

All children eligible for free school meals will benefit from the national voucher scheme during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s not yet known if the government will continue to provide this vital support to families when the crisis is over.

The free school meal vouchers can be spent on food at supermarkets like Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Waitrose and M&S.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “I recognise that the unprecedented action this Government is taking to protect the country from coronavirus, including closing schools, is dramatically affecting the lives of many families.

I want to thank schools for the support they are continuing to provide to families during such uncertain times.”

To learn more about Chefs in Schools click here.

To find out about the government’s school voucher scheme click here.

For the latest coronavirus news from Hackney and across London follow our live blog here, visit our corona virus page, or join our Facebook group here.

Or to find more groups, networks and organisations like this in Hackney providing support during the Coronavirus lockdown visit our There With You Essential List.


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