Coronavirus: Ellesmere academy and coach firm team up to keep children fed at home

A school in Ellesmere has teamed up with a coach company to make sure children who are staying at home during the coronavirus crisis get their free school meals.

At Lakelands Academy are cook Kelly Curley, Tony Jones, Phil Hammond, Kerry Rowlands and Les Pugh
At Lakelands Academy are cook Kelly Curley, Tony Jones, Phil Hammond, Kerry Rowlands and Les Pugh

Lakeside Coaches has been delivering about 45 meals to homes across north Shropshire for pupils of Lakelands Academy.

The academy was closed last Thursday and Friday because of staff shortages, while this week only about a dozen pupils have been attending, as most workers are told to stay at home and keep their children indoors.

That left the academy with dozens of children potentially relying on them for their lunches, with staff scrambling to come up with a solution.

Headteacher Sophy Bellis said: "I don't know whose idea it was – last week it was such a dynamic, ever-changing picture it brought out the best in everybody. Every member of the leadership team was throwing out so many ideas.

"[We thought:] What will happen to the children who rely on us to have lunch everyday?"

Coronavirus:

The staff even began drawing up plans for the teachers to use their own cars and deliver meals themselves – an idea which Mrs Bellis dubbed 'JustLakeroo'.

But business manager Sarah Davies got speaking with Neal Hall of Lakeside Coaches, with who the academy works closely.

Mr Hall offered to deliver free school meals to the pupils, so from late last week the firm's vehicles have been collecting dozens of meals prepared by school cook Kelly Curley and dropping them off to the eligible pupils whose families have opted in.

The service will continue through next week, after which point Mrs Bellis hopes a government scheme to provide supermarket vouchers will be in place.

She said: "We're all anxious for these vouchers to be ready because it's things like this that we feel a huge responsibility for not just the education of the young people, but making sure they are safe and their families are supported in just incredibly difficult circumstances."

She paid tribute to the staff community, Lakeside Coaches and parents in "unprecedented" circumstances.

"The creativity and innovation that has come out of this has been quite remarkable."

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