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High praise for church foodbank project helping families facing holiday food poverty

PUBLISHED: 16:54 01 October 2020 | UPDATED: 17:27 01 October 2020

Emergency parcels being packed for the Diocese of Norwich Filling the Gap project. Picture: Diocese of Norwich

Emergency parcels being packed for the Diocese of Norwich Filling the Gap project. Picture: Diocese of Norwich

Archant

Emergency food parcels, craft and sporting equipment will continue to be given out to families in need across Norfolk during the next two school holidays.

Emergency parcels being sent out for delivery for the Diocese of Norwich Filling the Gap project. Picture: Diocese of NorwichEmergency parcels being sent out for delivery for the Diocese of Norwich Filling the Gap project. Picture: Diocese of Norwich

The food and resource packages, given out by 110 schools and many churches of the Diocese of Norwich as part of its Filling the Gap project, will be donated during the October and Christmas half-term breaks.

It was formed this summer out of a vision from the Rt Rev Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich, and provided 128 families with 26,082 meals over six weeks.

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham Usher. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham Usher. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

He set the Diocese of Norwich education team a challenge to offer a “rainbow of hope” to local families during the summer break and the majority of parcels go to people in rural areas who cannot easily access foodbanks.

MORE: More than 20,000 meals over school holidays provided by churches and schools

The extension of the project comes after it was praised by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, and the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Paul Butler, who highlighted the “harrowing” number of families it is thought could be destitute by Christmas.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby. Picture Matthew Usher.The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby. Picture Matthew Usher.

They are calling on the government to extend free school meals to every child whose family was on Universal Credit and expand holiday provision to all children on free school meals.

Bishop Graham tweeted: “Grateful to @JustinWelby and @BishopPaulB for highlighting @DioceseNorwich Filling the Gap project, a partnership between schools and churches to feed families in rural Norfolk beyond the reach of established foodbanks. Proud of our team and partners who are delivering this.”

MORE: Norwich charity delivers one million meals to vulnerable people across the city

The religious leaders’ pleas come after Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford forced the government into a U-turn over its free school meals policy during lockdown, ensuring children did not go hungry over the summer period.

They said: “All schools must have the appropriate resources to be able to address issues of child hunger and poverty and expand their role as places of security for children who are at risk, whilst maintaining safety at school.”

Foodbank charity the Trussell Trust said that nationally 46,000 food parcels would need to be provided to people in crisis between this month and December - an increase of 61pc on last year.

It estimated that an additional 670,000 people would be destitute by the end of 2020.


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