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CHILDREN in Leicester who normally have a free school meal won’t miss out over the half-term break, thanks to a holiday food programme being supported by a local food retailer.

Samworth Brothers Quality Foods, is supporting a half term holiday food programme which is being run by Leicester City Council and features pop-up community food pantries.

The Melton based retailer and food manufacturer, has teamed up with the authority to provide eligible families with fruit, vegetables, milk, bread and store cupboard essentials to ensure children have some breakfast, lunch and dinner options over the February half-term.

Families who have registered for the scheme will be able to collect their food from 19 pop-up community pantries that will be set up at sites across the city – including local schools, children’s centres, leisure centres, the King Power stadium and the Morningside Arena.

Picture: Samworth Brothers

Each site will be open for a specified time between Thursday 10–Sunday, February 13.

Families will be able to select a good food hamper and additional items from the community pantry, choosing food that their child likes to eat up to a value of around £15.

Deputy city mayor Cllr Sarah Russell, who leads the city council’s anti-poverty agenda, said: “It’s been another tough year for everyone, but it’s been particularly difficult for families on low incomes, especially as we see fuel and food prices soaring.

“I’m therefore really pleased that we’re going to be opening up our half-term food ‘shops’, which will hopefully make life a little easier for many local families.

“Around 14,500 children and young people in Leicester are eligible for free school meals and it’s vital that they don’t miss out on a meal when the schools are closed.

“I’d like to thank the team at Samworth Brothers and Company Shop for helping us support thousands of young people and their families across the city with this important half-term initiative, and I’d also like to thank the dozens of volunteers who will give up their time to help staff our 19 community pantries.

Leicester-based Samworth Brothers produce premium quality chilled and ambient foods – from sandwiches, meals and savoury pastries to salads, cooked meats and snacks – so they were perfectly placed to provide the city council with the thousands of items required to provide a week’s worth of meals for 14,500 children.

Paula Gagin, Samworth Brothers Community Champion, said: “We’ve worked together across the group and with the Company Shop team to secure the huge amount of food required.

“It was quite a challenge, but we have some fantastic people who pulled out all the stops to make it happen. We are passionate about our role within our local communities and I’m very pleased that we’ve been able to support such a great initiative.”

The city council has allocated £200,000 from the Covid Household Support Grant to fund the initiative and help support the city’s most financially vulnerable families.

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