School holiday hunger project Chomp has sent out its 1,000th food parcel.
The charity, which usually provides free lunch clubs and activities throughout the school holidays in communities across Brighton and Hove, changed tack back in March when schools shut at the start of the coronavirus lockdown.
Thanks to funding from Brighton and Hove City Council, donations from businesses and support from the Brighton and Hove Food Partnership, more than 180 families a week are benefiting from the parcels.
Chomp lead Vanessa O’Shea said that since the start of the lockdown communities have come together to support the service by holding food bank collections.
Fresh vegetables come from Florence Road Market, where customers can buy one and give one.
All children receiving parcels qualify for free school meals. Some have special educational needs.
Many of the families are single parents, mums and dads, many of whom have both physical and mental health problems, Mrs O’Shea said, adding: “When people aren’t able to get out to the big supermarkets or rely on small local food shops, it is more expensive.
“People cannot afford this during normal times, and certainly not fruit and veg to feed their family healthy stuff.”
Many of the families receiving parcels are already known to Chomp as they use the school holiday lunch clubs.
Others are referred by schools, social services and doctors’ surgeries as families who are struggling to manage during the lockdown.
During the six-week school holiday period, Sussex County Cricket Club has sponsored recipe bags with guides to cooking specific dishes.
Another business has donated extra treats and toys during the summer period.
Mrs O’Shea said: “What we’ve got is over 180 families in frontline contact with us.
“The council is doing a great job feeding people who need help.”
Once children return to school, the boxes will drop to fortnightly deliveries, with a return to the usual Chomp holiday lunch clubs during the October half-term holiday.
It is also working on new projects to support parents, including an introduction to running course in partnership with Brighton and Hove Women’s Running Club.