Pledge that no Newport families should go hungry as firms and food banks step in

"No-one need go hungry in Newport" for the rest of the year, declared the town mayor today as big-hearted firms and the dedicated town food bank services stepped in to cover free school breakfasts for children.

A typical breakfast parcel from the Newport Foodbank, although what features in each parcel can vary based on donations the food bank receives
A typical breakfast parcel from the Newport Foodbank, although what features in each parcel can vary based on donations the food bank receives

After Telford & Wrekin Council said its free school meals programme would be extended to cover the Christmas holiday period, Newport Shropshire Foodbank became the designated access point for families.

It means that anyone in receipt of free school meals should receive details of how to get five-day food parcels, which can then be collected on Tuesday mornings from the food bank at the Royal Navy Club in Bellman's Yard.

After the Government rejected Labour's proposal to extend free schools meals in holiday times, firms and groups around the country volunteered to help out.

In Newport the support services include the town food bank as well as the Food Share project, which operates in the navy club every Monday morning. The two services are complementary but offer different kinds of support.

The food bank volunteers spoke of the importance of breaking the stigma around accessing support, by sharing the story of a mother who plucked up the courage to visit on a Tuesday.

Her statement said: "It was possibly the hardest thing I have had to do... swallowing my pride and walking through that door.

"The volunteers were lovely and after many tears and talking I was so totally overwhelmed by the food I was given to take home.

"A huge, huge thank you to you all."

Confidential

Bridget Supple from the food bank said that although Telford & Wrekin Council have been "brilliant" since the announcement, she is aware of some eligible parents who have not yet received letters informing them how to access the support.

She urged anyone who is eligible but has not received a letter yet, or anyone who is not normally eligible but is "really struggling", to contact their children's school or the food bank directly.

"We are aiming to make sure that from now until Christmas, every child who needs it gets a parcel."

Visit the food bank drop in on Tuesday mornings, or message facebook.com/newportfoodbank. All support is confidential.

Meanwhile Food Share, which has provided an average of 62 parcels a week to Newport families since the beginning of April, is continuing its weekly drop in services.

It operates a drop in at the navy club on Monday mornings where people can buy fresh, perishable food saved from landfill by volunteers over the preceding weekend.

Since the pandemic began, people using the service have been asked to queue outside while waiting for the volunteers to pack their parcels.

Town mayor Peter Scott praised the town's "great community work".

"I've been collecting and delivering, very impressed with what they are doing. Parents are able to access support every week up to Christmas. No one need go hungry in Newport."

He mentioned a number of town businesses that have been providing help this half term week on top of the council parcels for families who are eligible, including Jones fish and chip shop, the Barley, the Shakespeare Inn and Wok 'n' Roll.

Several of them benefited from £400 in donations raised by Newport scrap collector Carl Dixon, who appealed on social media.

He said: "We all pull together [in Newport] if something goes wrong. We have done since all of this happened.

"I'm Newport born and bred, Newport people are very good to me and I try to pay something back."

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