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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
David Cohen and William Hosie

How we’re helping families struggling to put food on the table

Lucy Young

Sainsbury’s has become the first big backer of our On The Breadline Christmas appeal in partnership with Comic Relief – pledging £500,000 that will target food insecurity across the UK.

It brings the total raised in two days to £1.5m, following the £1m given by Comic Relief to help us tackle the cost of living crisis. The Sainsbury’s money will support the work of FareShare, the UK’s largest food redistribution charity, which supplies more than 9,000 frontline charities and community groups nationwide.

One of these beneficiaries, St Paul’s Primary School in Whitechapel, east London, was visited by Lord Lebedev, shareholder in The Independent, who helped deliver fresh fruit and vegetables, pasta and sauces, to their weekly food bank and talked to parents and children about how they are being impacted by the cost of living crisis.

The Independent’s campaign to help the disadvantaged ( Independent)

Lord Lebedev said: “On The Breadline is possibly the most important appeal we’ve ever run. As the UK braces for one of the toughest winters in several generations, it is critical that we all offer our support to those in need.”

Ten-year-old Amirah Khanom told Lord Lebedev that her favourite subject was science and she loved doing experiments. As Christmas approaches, Amirah’s peers will be asking for beginner lab kits, but she doesn’t feel she can. Her family has been hit hard by the escalating cost of living crisis, her mother said, and with a shy whisper, Amirah added that she’d be “happy with anything”.

Lord Lebedev had earlier started his journey by helping to load up food crates at an East London depot of The Felix Project, which runs FareShare’s London operation since the two food redistribution giants joined forces in 2020 “to tackle the unprecedented hunger crisis facing Londoners”.

Ruth Cranston, Sainsbury’s direct of corporate responsibility and sustainability, said: “To help tackle food poverty this winter, we’re supporting this Appeal by donating half a million pounds to support our long-standing redistribution partner FareShare provide the equivalent of 2 million meals to those facing food insecurity across the UK. With challenging months ahead, we are aware how difficult times are for many people up and down the country.”

Ms Cranston added: “We share a belief that everyone deserves access to nutritious food and know we have a responsibility to support the communities we serve. This winter we are launching our new community programme, ‘Nourish the Nation’, and will continue to work with Comic Relief and FareShare as we tackle food insecurity together.”

At St Paul’s Primary School, food donations from Felix and FareShare offer struggling families a lifeline.

Amirah’s mother, Fahmida, told Lord Lebedev how she sometimes skips meals to make sure there is enough for her two daughters but that the food bank gave them a sense of plenty amid rising bills. “I’ll be able to make grilled broccoli for dinner alongside eggs and bread,” Fahmida said, smiling. “Breakfast tomorrow will be whatever’s left over.”

Fahmida is far from alone in skipping meals. A recent survey by The Felix Project revealed that four in ten parents have skipped meals or not bought food for themselves in order to feed their children. Almost one in five fear they won’t be able to provide for their families this winter.

Darren Rubin, the school’s executive head, said that thanks to Felix, the school also runs a breakfast club to feed those arriving hungry. “We see the difference between those who have eaten and those who haven’t. They are more tired, less focused, and some end up falling behind.”

Other parents spoke, too, of how the cost of living crisis was causing deep worry and the difference that the free food made. Tamanna Akhtar, a mother of three boys at the school, said: “I’m finding it hard to provide. Even basics like milk and onions. It’s ridiculous. Without these food donations, we would struggle even more.” But she preferred not to dwell and chose hope. “I feel there’s more help and humanity since this [crisis] struck – it goes to show how far even a small donation can go.”

Nadima Begun, a mother of twin girls at the school, added: “We have to budget a lot more than before. We can’t do all the things we used to do as a family.”

Charlotte Hill, CEO of The Felix Project, said that new organisations and schools were in touch every day asking for help. She said: “Support from campaigns like the On The Breadline appeal is vital to ensure we can be there to feed the growing numbers of Londoners who are at risk.”

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