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The Big Give: City Harvest Helps Feed Children without Access to Nutritious Food

700,000 driven into poverty by Covid crisis in UK - including 120,000 children

London, 1 in 6 children face going without food this Christmas as existing food poverty numbers rise after what has been a devastating year for so many people.

City Harvest rescues surplus food from retailers, manufactures and businesses and makes sure it gets to those most in need.

Our target was to raise money to feed 200,000 children this Christmas who do not have access to food. With your incredible support we raised money to feed 324,000 children this Christmas!

where we deliver nutritious healthy food - for free

Grove Adventure Playground, is a great example of one of our fantastic South London charity partners. Described as the epicentre of the local community, Grove serves as an open access, free, supervised adventure playground for children aged 6-14. An essential community solution to support young people.

Originally founded in 1969, the social nucleus was re-opened in 2018 to meet the needs of the local community and to deliver essential services.

This year has seen Grove Adventure Playground become a pillar of support for so many, run by a team of dedicated volunteers. This Spring, volunteers began to distribute food on behalf of Lambeth Council to local children and families who were struggling to put meals on the table. Grove Adventure Playground has proven to be a lifeline for vulnerable children and families within the community, especially those suddenly finding themselves in a position of food poverty.

We caught up with Leah to get a glimpse of the amazing work that Grove do.

How have you seen the need for food or food parcels change this year?

Grove began delivering food parcels to the community at the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown. We were asked to support Lambeth to get food out to those in need in the community. We asked Grove families if they needed support and very quickly had more referrals from within the community. We delivered up to 35 parcels a week, with a team of regular volunteers. During the summer, when we reopened we continued to provide groceries to up to 25 families a week who were still needing support. We are still helping a small group of families who are struggling.

How many more children or families are you feeding?

We have probably supported an additional 20 households throughout Covid-19. We have 400 children and young people on our books and about 100 regular playground attendees, for whom we provide breakfast, a healthy lunch and snacks and drinks when on site.

In your opinion what percentage of your families will face no food this Christmas?

It is difficult to know the answer. Most of our families are resourceful, as they are used to getting by on very little. The families that I am most worried about are those that have no recourse to public funds. Throughout Covid, people who have lost their jobs or have been unable to operate business in lockdown and have had to wait 4 weeks for benefit payments, or fall outside the criteria but have no income- these are the ones I worry about. Some families are in debt and all their money goes straight to pay off debts, so they will need our help this Christmas.

Could you tell us about some of the challenges you or your beneficiaries have faced this year especially?

When the children came back to the playground over the Summer, many of them were very quiet, but after a couple of weeks did come out of themselves. Sadly, we just haven't seen some of our regular kids throughout this period. Many families are anxious and are keeping the kids at home. Families in inner-city areas where income is low are experiencing greater pressures than normal in so many ways, most notably overcrowding, so during lockdown families are having to stay indoors and problems become accentuated.

Overcrowding is by all means not a new challenge, but something that has definitely made this year harder for people to cope with.

We have one family has 3 adults and 6 children in a third-floor block. Another who lives in a high rise block, 3 bedrooms, 2 adults, 5 kids, 3 of whom have special needs and disabilities.

Many families are extremely anxious about Covid, and are living with or supporting someone who is vulnerable.

There are single-parent households, living on benefits or on low income, in debt. Many parents work in care, schools or hospitals in our area, increasing anxiety and risk for all. I think I could go on and on.

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