De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has joined organisations across the city to help provide 30,000 meals to children during the summer holidays.
Holiday clubs are being set up around the city offering a host of free activities and free lunches as part of Feeding Leicester, an anti-poverty network which includes Action Homeless, Leicester City Council and Fareshare East Midlands.
Figures show that more than 40 per cent of children in Leicester grow up in poverty and the summer holidays can be an extra struggle for families who rely on free school meals during term time.
DMU student volunteers will be on hand to support the clubs and the university’s public engagement programme DMUlocal has committed £5,000 towards the cost. 30,00 children will be fed during the campaign but if more money is raised then they will be able to help up to 40,000 youngsters.
Other partners who have pledged support includes B Inspired, Leicester’s Adventure Playgrounds, St Matthews Big Local, Reaching People, Charity Link and the Diocese of Leicester.
Jess Bogic, widening participation manager at DMUlocal said: “It is heartbreaking that so many children in Leicester are struggling to get enough to eat in 2019.
“By working with organisations across the city we hope that together, we can make a difference. Our students and staff were able to help last year’s Holiday Hunger campaign and we are sure there will be plenty of volunteers again this summer.”
Leicester City Council will provide the bulk of the funding for the scheme, following the Government’s announcement that it would not be providing any grant support this year.
Councillor Sarah Russell, deputy city mayor responsible for social care and anti-poverty, said: “It’s estimated that three million children in the UK are at risk of going hungry in the school holidays, with the long summer break hitting families particularly hard.
“Last year, with the support of our partners and funding from the Department for Education, we were able to provide 30,000 lunches to specific areas of the city, which we know made a huge difference to many families.
“This year we won’t receive any government funding, but we are determined to provide the same level of support as we know it’s badly needed. Fortunately, we have some great partners who are committed to making this happen.”
* Find out more about volunteering at DMU - book onto our open day
* Volunteer Scott writes about his time volunteering at holiday hunger
* How DMU supports communities across the city
Further funds are also being sought through a national Crowdfunding campaign to raise £50,000 to be shared with Leicester and other areas running holiday clubs for children in need across the country.
Chair of Feeding Leicester and Member of Parliament for Leicester West, Liz Kendall MP: “I am extremely disappointed that the government has failed to provide us with funding for our Holiday Hunger programme this year.
“However, every organisation that is part of Feeding Leicester is determined to ensure that as many children as possible are able to access a free meal over the summer holidays and I urge people from across Leicester to back our efforts if they possibly can.”
Posted on Wednesday 29th May 2019