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Free lunches project returns to Norwich to tackle holiday hunger

PUBLISHED: 10:29 26 July 2019 | UPDATED: 10:29 26 July 2019

Brian Green, branch secretary of the Unite Community branch in Norfolk. Photo: Lauren Cope

Brian Green, branch secretary of the Unite Community branch in Norfolk. Photo: Lauren Cope

Archant

A project which helps combat holiday hunger by giving out free packed lunches has warned it could struggle to meet demand this summer.

Last year, Norfolk Unite Community, part of the Unite Union, launched a project to hand out free lunches, with no questions asked, to children living in the Mile Cross area of Norwich.

Designed to help families who may be struggling to cover additional holiday costs of child care, activities and extra food, over the course of last summer the project handed out around 430 meals.

Now, as the scheme returns for another year, organisers are expecting to hand out almost three times as many meals as they did last summer and have warned they may be overwhelmed by demand.

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Brian Green, branch secretary of the Unite Community branch in Norfolk, which is running the project said the union had raised enough money to supply 1,200 lunches: "Easter was very busy so we are basing the number of lunches on the Easter holidays, the number of people we get all depends on many people the foodbank refers to us."

He said the project had already received more enquiries than last year, but that the increased interest could be put down to a number of factors, including word of mouth: "We seem to have had a lot of people enquiring about the meals and people contacting us this year but it could be that more people know about us now, and of course we work with Mile Cross, Catton Grove and Angel Road schools."

Mr Green said the project regularly heard of parents skipping meals in order to feed their children, he said: "We've received sufficient funds to provide 1,200 meals but for the first time we may be overwhelmed.

"It's very hard at the moment, benefits are frozen for three years, there are lots of extras, parents have to cut back and Mile Cross is a deprived area so it's a big burden for parents.

"We don't ask any questions we just hand out the lunches."

The lunches, which contain a roll with either a vegetarian, fish or meat filling, a carton of juice, piece of fruit, yoghurt drink and treat will be handed out from the Phoenix Centre on Mile Cross Road between 12pm and 1.30pm midday from July 26 to August 30th.

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