Mustard video: ‘I go hungry so my children can eat’ - One mum’s story as Norwich Foodbank launches holiday lunch clubs

Annie Nugent who has used the Foodbank, with her sons, Samuel, 3, Ronnie, 6, left, and Jonathan Mutsinze 7, right. Picture: Denise Bradley Annie Nugent who has used the Foodbank, with her sons, Samuel, 3, Ronnie, 6, left, and Jonathan Mutsinze 7, right. Picture: Denise Bradley

Mark Shields
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
12:46 PM

On most days, Annie Nugent’s breakfast is a single vitamin tablet, washed down with a glass of water.

She skips lunch, eating her only meal of the day in the evening when her three sons have returned from school.

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On most days, Annie Nugent’s breakfast is a single vitamin tablet, washed down with a glass of water.

She skips lunch, eating her only meal of the day in the evening when her three sons have returned from school.

With growing children and a shrinking budget, hers is a choice facing many parents: enduring the constant ache of hunger herself or seeing her children go without.

That choice becomes even more stark during the school holidays, when seven-year-old Jonathan and six-year-old Ronnie no longer receive their free school lunch.

Norwich Foodbank has announced the launch of six lunch clubs, where children can go over the summer break for food and activities with people their own age.

The first lunch club has been running for nearly a year, but the new Food (and Fun) in the School Holidays – or FISH – clubs were piloted for three days a week over the Easter holidays.

Miss Nugent, of The Avenues, said: “Over the summer holidays, Jonathan and Ronnie don’t get a cooked dinner for their lunch. If you take the three children, lunch club provides me with about 45 cooked meals. That’s a big money-saver for us.”

The 35-year-old, who also has a three-year-old son, Samuel, added: “Normally, I tend not to have breakfast or lunch, and then I sit and eat a dinner with the children. I feel permanently tired and have a poor diet. I know it’s healthier to have all three but that’s how we have to manage things. ”

Miss Nugent said her situation changed dramatically four years ago, when, after splitting from her partner, she had to give up her full-time job to look after her children.

She receives her tax credits monthly, but often has to look to friends and family as money runs short at the end of the month.

“If something unexpected goes wrong, we have to find the money from somewhere,” she added.

The new FISH clubs will offer children a nutritious meal and a fun activity in a safe environment, giving parents some respite over the holidays and ensuring the children get regular meals. Children must be referred by care agencies, and the clubs will run for between one and three days a week to begin with.

Norwich Foodbank has struck deals with allotments and supermarkets including Sainsbury’s and Morrisons to use their surplus fresh produce for meals, while Tesco has offered to provide baking classes as activities.

Project manager Grant Habershon said: “We speak to parents who say they barely eat over the school holidays because they want their children to eat, or want to pay for some activities for them.

“For a family with two children, the school holidays can mean trying to find another 10 meals a week. On a low budget, that’s very difficult. Our new FISH clubs offer somewhere that children can come for a nutritious meal and also enjoy stimulating activities in a safe environment.”

Is your charity launching a new project? Email mark.shields@archant.co.uk

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