It’s the aroma of fish and chips that comes to mind when I look back and remember the school holidays. The meal served inside soggy newspaper and the wooden fork provided to conquer the pile of chips all evoke memories that remind me of the way in which all my needs were taken care of in the school holidays by my parents. I never once had to worry where my next meal was coming from.
Back in 2011, a number of us watched a documentary called Poor Kids. It featured four children growing up in poverty in different parts of the UK, including Courtney living on the Canterbury estate in Bradford where Lewis, the first child TLG supported, grew up. Courtney is seen in the film eating a sausage roll and describing the hunger she felt as the hot meal provided for free at school during term time wasn’t available during the holidays. Unicef global research published in June 2017 showed that ‘an average of 1 in 5 children in the UK face food insecurity’.
The scale of holiday hunger is huge, with 1.1 million children receiving Free School Meals and as many as 3.7 million children living in poverty. It poses an urgent question. What happens to these children during the thirteen weeks of the school holidays?
Watching the Poor Kids film in 2011 was Rachel Warwick, an inspiring Christian with a passion to see the church step in to the fill the holiday hunger gap for children. With a handful of friends she set up ‘Make Lunch’, enabling churches to run fun lunch clubs during the school holidays for children that would otherwise go hungry.
The team have already made a huge impact tackling holiday hunger. In fact, since Make Lunch began, over 67,000 meals have been served through churches across the UK.
What’s fantastic and hugely exciting to announce is that Make Lunch has now become fully part of the TLG family! This is a programme that is completely in line with our vision and to get alongside struggling children and families with practical help. Our partnerships with so many UK churches with a deep passion to see lives transformed means there is a huge opportunity to replicate Make Lunch in every town and city across the UK.
We asked Make Lunch founder Rachel Warwick about the journey of Make Lunch so far, and the future she sees for the programme as part of TLG:
What do you love most about Make Lunch?
I love the way Make Lunch connects the church with families in the local community. We’ve always been keen to keep it flexible enough that each church could deliver the service in the way which best suits them and their local area. The depth of relationships formed between Make Lunch teams and the families goes much further than food.
What is it about TLG that fits with Make Lunch?
I love TLG’s commitment to serving the children and families in the best possible way, and all clearly rooted in their strong Christian faith.
What are your hopes for Make Lunch in the years ahead with TLG?
I’m excited to see Make Lunch thrive and grow with TLG. In the 6 years I led MakeLunch, we delivered enough meals to feed 6% of the number of children registered for Free School Meals just once each. That’s a lot of meals but there are more kids to feed every day.
We have a huge vision to enable churches everywhere to provide this life-transforming support in their own communities, and in the media we’ll be doing all we can to highlight the need to help more struggling children and families during the school holidays.
I’m so excited for this new part of TLG’s journey because I can’t wait to see the lives transformed across the country. I could explain that more but no-one could describe the difference that TLG Make Lunch brings better than Joanne and Marcie, whose lives have been turned around by their local TLG Make Lunch club. If you do one thing today, give the video below a watch.
Tim Morfin is the founder and Chief Executive of TLG. Tim, together with a group of other volunteers from a local church, began TLG by helping young people struggling in school in Bradford. He now leads the organisation nationally, still committed to bringing hope and a future to children and their families. He is married to Rachel and has three teenage sons.