More than one in five school children are eligible for free school meals in Bolton due to low household income – that’s 8,600 children! During the school summer holidays, these families face a six week struggle to find the money to feed their children. In response to this crisis, we mobilise hundreds of volunteers over the six weeks to prepare packed lunches. Working in partnership with churches, children’s centres and other community venues, we then distribute the lunches across the borough for free collection at the point of need by children and their parents. Our aim is to ensure that no child goes hungry.
Children watched for the Bolton Lunches van to come onto the estate, and then ran out, shouting: ”Our lunch is here, our lunch is here!”
How it Works
A couple of years ago we moved sandwich preparation and the assembly of lunch bags from our previously loaned warehouse space to the former Central Baptist Church on Snowden Street, Bolton.
All the food which goes to make up the packs is purchased fresh using money donated from a variety of sources. The project has benefited from many individual financial contributors which we are so grateful for and which has ensured we have been able to cover our food purchases.
A lot of fun is had when around 60 ‘early bird’ volunteers assemble at 7am to make the packed lunches fresh each weekday over the school summer holiday. The packs contain a bread roll with a choice of fillings, a carton of fruit juice, a cereal bar, a pack of mini cheese biscuits and a piece of fruit. The packs are then driven out to distribution venues across the town – targeting areas where there are high levels of free school meal claimants.
Bolton Lunches provides a fantastic opportunity for community centres to reach out and make deeper connections with people in their area. It brings new families into local centres – connecting them with people and services which can help with their broader needs. Each year, a number of our partners use the opportunity to arrange other activities. For example, Seddon’s Construction arrange a ‘teddy bear’s picnic’ at their offices. We arrange for 100+ children and their parents from some of our distribution venues to have the lunch there.
We are grateful to all who have so faithfully supported this project over the years – both financially and in supplying delivery vehicles and staff at no cost. These include Bolton Council, Seddon Construction, ‘U Drive’,‘Vensons’ the Asda Foundation, churches across Bolton and many individual donors.
In 2019 Bolton Lunches will run from 22nd July – 30th August. Details of where the lunches will be available from can be found by clicking here.
If you would like to make a financial contribution to help us pay for the lunches, you can donate here
If you can volunteer to help make the lunches, please get in touch with us by phone or using our Contact Page.
Last summer, working in partnership with local community centres, churches and businesses – together with an army of over 200 amazing volunteers – we produced and supplied 52,044 lunches over the school summer holiday (up from 45,268 in the previous year). On average this amounted to 8,674 lunches per week (or 1,795 per day). Approximately 6050 individual children were fed through the project. The lunches were distributed from 27 local centres (one more than in the previous year).
You can see Bolton Lunches in action by watching the video below.