Leftover school meals handed to struggling families at city school due to universal credit crisis

Oasis Academy Short Heath offers a food bank, free school uniform shop, hot meals in the holidays – and even gives away leftover school dinners

From Birmingham Live-

‘A Birmingham school is taking remarkable steps to help struggling families in need.

More than half the children at Oasis Academy Short Heath, in Perry Common, receive free school meals and pupil premium funding and Universal Credit cuts mean more parents than ever are struggling to make ends meet.

Staff decided to join forces with parents to launch a food bank, a second hand uniform shop, hot meals during school holidays, English and maths classes for parents and holiday clubs for kids.

They even give away leftover school dinners to vulnerable families.

And, they are in the process of renovating an unused school building into a community hub that can be used as a ‘safe space’ for families.

“Lots of people have been affected by the Universal Credit cuts,” said Pam Atwal, who is safeguarding / community leader at the Streetly Road school, rated Good by Oftsted.

“So we decided to set up a Food Bank. We sent out a flyer asking parents to send in food items and we were inundated.

“This way vulnerable families can just pop in and pick up what they need without having to answer questions and pick up forms.

“Sometimes it’s not long term help they need, it’s just that they’re waiting to get paid and have run out of cupboard essentials. We know that for some it will take a lot for them to come and ask for food, so we just say go and help yourself.”

One mum said the change in the benefits has left her having to choose between food and heating. She said: “I don’t know what I would have done without the use of the Food Bank. Just knowing I can feed the kids pasta is a relief.”

The steps made by the come at a time when the number of families using foodbanks across the city is soaring.

New figures show a 23 per cent rise in the amount of people using foodbanks in the city – that’s 41,436 packs of supplies given out to Brummies between April 2018 to March 2019 – an increase on 33,445 the previous year.

Of this, 14,015 has been given to children. This means 270 children each week currently rely on Birmingham’s food banks to survive.

Leftover food scheme

When food is leftover from school dinners, kitchen staff parcel it up and invite families to come and collect it.

“It’s taken us 18 months to fight for this due to hygiene issues,” said deputy head Joe Darnley.

“We felt it was really important. The food used to be just thrown away. Now families can come and collect food parcels around three times a week.

“It prevents waste and it enables the families to spend money elsewhere.”

A grandma said it made a huge difference to her. She said: “Having three hungry boys at my age demanding food as soon as they get in can be really tiring.

“I look forward to the call to say I can collect some dinner.” ‘…

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