“We believe there are no outsiders at Stokes Wood School,” explains Head Teacher, Jane Gadsby. “We welcome everyone, regardless of their faith, culture, colour, background, disability or gender. For this reason, there are a wide range of vulnerabilities amongst the children at our school, many of whom have families who are just about getting by, particularly as the rising cost of living is hitting everyone.”
Stokes Wood Primary first started receiving FareShare food in the 2018/2019 academic year, when they became part of the National School Breakfast Programme – an initiative which sees schools funded for providing students with a healthy, filling breakfast. To this end, FareShare Midlands provided a weekly delivery of fruit, cereal, bread and yoghurts.
Since then, the school has also been involved in the Holiday Activities and Food Programme (HAF), most recently in Easter 2022. This programme supports children who normally receive free school meals throughout term time, by providing not only a healthy meal, but also access to enriching activities.
Jane explains the positive impact this has had on the families of students at Stokes Wood School:
“Through this scheme, we have been able to provide both food and very cheap childcare to so many families finding it difficult at the moment. This service means parents can go to work! And it makes it worthwhile them going to work – as they’re not having to fork out lots of money for childcare. For the most disadvantaged children, their parents can have the peace of mind that they’re getting a good square meal every day which isn’t costing them money – and not just any meal, a healthy one.”
Fuelled on a filling and tasty meal, the children are able to take part in a whole range of fun activities. At Stokes Wood, this includes climbing, den building, orienteering, treasure hunts, dancing, arts and crafts, laptop work and mini-beast finding… to name just a few!
One parent, Mrs Mullany, expressed how grateful she was for the support the school provides:
“I want to say thank you for the past 2 weeks – I really appreciate it. As I’m working, it’s helped me out so much. I just wanted to let you all know how much the kids have enjoyed it too. We are lucky that our children have the support they do from all the staff at Stokes Wood. Knowing that children are getting a healthy lunch is a great help and makes life for a working mum so much easier.”
Food from FareShare Midlands has been essential in the school’s ability to provide this service:
The school subscribes strongly to the mantra that no good food should go to waste, so they are always innovative with ways in which they can use up food that hasn’t gone into the pupils’ breakfast or lunches. For example, they freeze food, use it in cooking classes, take it on camping trips, provide food parcels for children to take home, and when possible also allow members of staff on lower incomes to take home some provisions.
“Through FareShare we are able to save so much money. It’s amazing how much we get for relatively so little! I mean, recently we fed 100 children every day for 4 days, for just £34! And we are really impressed with the range and quality of food too. Over the years we have received bread, cheese, ham, salad, beans, cakes, strawberries, peaches – much of which the children would not normally have had access to.”
As the cost of living continues to soar, Stokes Wood predicts the need for their services will only increase. Their pastoral team are already looking into housing support, and many families are applying for school uniform funding. But as a school with strong values and dedicated staff, they are committed to continuing to provide as much support as they can to struggling pupils and families. FareShare Midlands is proud to enable Stokes Wood to do just this.