HERE are some impressive numbers for you. Four weeks in summer; 20,000 sandwiches; 25 volunteers; lunchbags with over 100,000 items altogether.

Getting up early to be there at 7am to start our production line. Loading the van for two deliveries to BwD Children’s Centres.

Co-ordinated by Kingdom Outreach, a Christian organisation, the scale of the enterprise to provide a lunchbag for children across the borough of Blackburn was phenomenal and had to be seen to be believed.  Most days our slick ‘production line’ was finished by 8.45am or even earlier.  Many, but not all, of the people on the line were Christians who were living out their faith, by caring for others.

At the Children’s Centres, the staff managed the influx of families coming for lunchbags.  

This was a fantastic undertaking, and really above and beyond their normal provision, with a range of activities also available for children and families. 

Most appreciated the support they received during the holidays … this was one community trying to care for another in partnership with the Children’s Centres, by providing more than just food.

So many people have said, as they realised the scale of what was going on, that this should not have to happen in this country; in this borough. 

Food poverty takes so many different forms – a recent study by the Food Foundation claimed that four million UK children are too poor to have a healthy diet.  Not having enough money, whether long term or because a payment is delayed, is the cause of not being able to eat regularly or healthily.

As a borough, we are doing what we can, as best we can to support those who need it. 

The Blackburn with Darwen Food Alliance is stimulating a big conversation about what we can do to raise the issues of food poverty.  We have recently launched The Young People’s Empowerment Forum. 

This is exploring how hunger impacts on young people – and is launching a campaign #DarwengetsHangry #Hangry and #BlackburngetsHangry. 

‘Hangry’, in case you don’t know, is when you are hungry and it makes you angry.

As a child, it can affect your behavior in school if you come in without breakfast, possibly even without a proper evening meal.

The Big Food Conversation will take place in Darwen and Blackburn during October, around the UN Day for the Eradication of Poverty and at the same time as the second reading of the Food Insecurity Bill at Westminster.  Local issues and challenges will be discussed at a conference on October 24.

Watch this space – we are fighting for healthier, affordable access to food and to dispel the myths about what food poverty means – there are no deserving and undeserving poor. 

Gillian Beeley

Together Lancashire Development Co-ordinator (East Lancashire)