Pop-up pantries being set up to feed kids at half-term

A pop-up pantry at Soar Valley College during the May 2023 half-term break
A pop-up pantry at Soar Valley College during the May 2023 half-term break -Credit:Leicester City Council

Children in Leicester who receive free school meals will be able to benefit from £25 worth of healthy food over the half-term thanks to pop-up pantries. Leicester City Council is organising the free food, which will see families order online and then collect food provided by local company Samworth Brothers and surplus retailer Company Shop.

The free food will be available for all children in the city who get benefits-related meals at school for free - about 16,000 children in total. Food available at the pantries will include fruit, vegetables, milk, bread and store cupboard essentials to provide breakfast, lunch and dinner each day throughout the half-term.

Families who are eligible for the scheme will have been directly contacted by their child’s school and invited to register. Once they’ve registered and selected a timed ‘shopping’ slot, families will be able to collect their food from one of five pop-up community pantries that will be set up at sites across the city – including at local schools, a leisure centre and the King Power Stadium.

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Each site will be open at specified times on one day between Wednesday, May 22, and Sunday, May 26. Deputy city mayor Sarah Russell said: “The rising cost of living means we’re seeing more and more people being pushed to crisis point.

“We don’t want to see families having to rely on initiatives like these pop-up pantries, and it’s not acceptable that families find themselves in this position.

“I’d like to thank Samworth Brothers and Company Shop for helping us support thousands of young people and their families, and I’d also like to thank the volunteers who give up their time to help staff our five community pantries.

“I’m sure that our pop-up pantries will help make life a little easier for lots of local families again this half-term."

Karen Holdsworth from Samworth Brothers said: “We’re very happy to be teaming up with the city council again to make these much-needed pantries possible. Samworth Brothers is, and has always been, very passionate about its role within our local communities and it’s wonderful that we can continue to support the council with this initiative.

“Organising the pantries is a big job, but by working with Company Shop, we’re able to make sure we have a fantastic range to offer the families attending. And of course, the pantries themselves wouldn’t be possible without a great team of volunteers, not only from within Samworth Brothers but also from the city council, Company Shop, Biffa and A La Carte recruitment.”

The city council has allocated £150,000 from the Department for Work & Pensions’ Household Support Fund to support the pop-up pantry initiative. The May half-term food scheme is offered to families who have children who:

  • receive benefits-related free school meals

  • are at full-time school (aged four to 16)

  • live in Leicester or attend a city school

More information and a link to the registration form is available at families.leicester.gov.uk/holiday-food-offer. Registration needs to be completed by Monday, May 6.