More than 12,500 children are eligible for free school meals in Bolton! During the school summer holidays, many such 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
Bolton Lunches has been running since 2014 and has built up its distribution sites and support over the years. Volunteers make up packed lunches which contain a sandwich roll with a choice of fillings, a packet of mini cheddar bakes, a cereal bar, a piece of fruit, a tube yogurt and a drink. The lunches are then delivered to or collected by distribution sites for children to collect a lunch across Bolton. These sites are mainly based in areas with a high percentage of free school meals.
Since 2021 we have been privileged to join the HAF (Holiday Activities and Food) programme that provides exciting sessions across Bolton covering sports, games, creative sessions, physical activities and more. Many of the groups choose to receive a Bolton Lunch pack for their children and young people who are involved. These free sessions are brilliant for bringing communities together, providing educational and physical activities to children and young people and we are so pleased to be a part of this. For more information on this summers HAF programme near you go to www.bolton.gov.uk/HAF
We also piloted a trial with our Horwich sites where one of the sites became a ‘Hub’. Volunteers in the area made up lunches for the distribution sites in Horwich locally to reduce on travel costs and implications for us as an organisation.
To find your nearest distribution site for summer 2023, click here.
We are ever 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 churches across Bolton, Bolton Council, Bolton at Home, Seddon Construction, ‘U Drive’, the Asda Foundation, Warburtons, Home Bargains and many individual donors and volunteers.
In the summer of 2021, working in partnership with churches, community groups, and businesses – together with an army of over 200 amazing volunteers – we produced and supplied 66,690 lunches over the school summer holiday (up from 53,331 in 2019 as Bolton Lunches did not run in 2020). On average this amounted to 11,115 lunches per week (or 2,299 per day). The lunches were distributed from 24 local centres, 28 HAF sites and 10 other community activities.