Over 20,000 meals for families in need

Since summer 2020, we have distributed over 20,000 meals in our weekly recipe kits to help families in Brighton and Hove who are living on a low income. We spoke to some of the recipients about what difference this scheme had made to them.

Thank you to the funders who supported this project: Food Power for Generation Covid, Sussex Cricket, Guerilla Cricket and the Fonthill Foundation.

Our ‘In the Bag’ recipe kits started over school summer holidays but expanded to offer a weekly recipe throughout autumn, winter and during school closures earlier this year. Each kit includes ingredients and cooking instructions for a different meal.

Families receiving meal kits were identified through the city’s Emergency Food Network and through partnership work with 7 local primary schools (whose pupils usually come for lessons in the Community Kitchen but couldn’t because of lockdown restrictions). The recipes were carefully chosen to require limited cookery equipment and all contained fruit or veg.  Recipes also involved either creative ways to use typical food bank ingredients or ingredients not usually received in parcels to give families greater variety.

The ingredients were weighed out and bags made up by a team of volunteers. As well as providing much needed food, the kits offered families a fun activity to enjoy together.

It gave us some bonding time as well, something to do after school and time talking about her day and what it was like at school. It really does help.

This father and his 12-year-old daughter enjoyed making the recipe kits each week together – and found that the nutrition tips and information included with each recipe inspired their family to make bigger changes to their diet. They now buy fewer unhealthy snacks and are eating more salads and steamed veg, more white meat and checking labels to choose lower fat and lower salt when out shopping.

The kits improved my outlook on what we choose in the shops, changing our diet, not just for me but for the kids as well.

noodle soup in a bowlThey regularly make our DIY pot noodle recipe as a quick and healthy snack. They also enjoyed the chance to try new dishes or new ingredients which they might not receive in a food parcel or choose for themselves, such as courgettes and butternut squash.

Families told us they appreciated how the recipe kits brought new ideas for meals when you find yourself making the same dishes again and again, and new ways to use ingredients – with many going on to experiment more in their own cooking. One parent told us she was sharing her recipe sheets with her daughter who had gone off to Uni for the first time, to give her ideas for cheap and easy recipes to make.

We made all of them. We enjoyed getting recipes we haven’t had before. Loved the lentil dahl – would never have thought to make that or eat that before.

kids cookingThe recipe kits came at a time when more families were feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on household incomes and turning to food banks for support.

We offered weekly kits from October half-term all the way through the Easter holidays, as we know that when children are home from school the pressures of providing snacks and meals can amplify families’ financial struggles.

Our own research earlier this year found that the biggest increase in recipients at food banks was from local families (69%), and that households with children had an average weekly food budget of just £8.53 per person.

I would like to thank all involved for their continued support and effort during these unprecedented times of hardship and struggle. The girls have loved the treats given also, leek & potato soup making, apple crumble and many more. It’s given the girls an insight into… how life really is – the struggle that we all have and the help that is available, and without this help life would be harder.

Household food insecurity is a very concerning issue in our city and beyond – and the easing of lockdown has not changed this. There are currently 5,310 people (including 1,300 children) receiving support with food each week in Brighton & Hove. If they all stood in a line using current social distancing guidance it would be 6 and half miles long. It would stretch from Rottingdean to Hove Lagoon. We continue to support these families through the city’s Emergency Food Network, and to ensure all food parcel recipients receive financial support and advice which aims to provide a longer-term solution.

Thank you, to think someone cares to do this is uplifting and that the recipes are good, easy, healthy, makes it even more special.

A healthy diet is essential for children to grow, develop and learn. We will continue working with our partners across the city to help local children and families. Please consider donating to our crowdfund campaign which will fund future recipe kits and meals for those who need them. Thank you to everyone who has supported our work in this last year.

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