Preston's Here for Humanity charity and West Preston Methodist Church have launched their 'Kids Eat First' scheme in a bid to battle lockdown hunger and support struggling families during the national school closures.
The project sees hot food cooked up inside the Ashton Methodist Church before being delivered to isolated families, low-income families and NHS workers with children.
The scheme kicked off yesterday on March 1, where 130 meals of three cheese macaroni were delivered to families homeschooling across Preston.
And the hot meals will continue to be delivered to struggling families and children throughout this week until schools reopen their doors on March 8.
Chris Murray the founder of the community group, said: "This is for any family who is facing difficulties and struggling to put food on the table for their children. When it was announced children were going back to school, people suddenly had to start worrying about dinner money, bus fares and how they would pay for uniforms.
"We cook for adults facing hardships in Preston as well as running the foodbanks weekly but wanted to make sure we fed children first this week before they go back to school.
"Instantly, there has become a lot of anxiety from families about their children going back to school, and people are running around trying to find money to support their children in their return back to school.
"The free school meals system is so flawed because it doesn't account for hardships faced during Covid-19. It doesn't consider those who are self-employed or those who are recently furloughed or jobless because of the pandemic, and it is those people who I have seen struggling the most.
"Someone could lose their job and all of a sudden, they don't have the money to put food on the table and feed their children. So many people who were successful and comfortable are now relying on foodbanks and can't make ends meet."
Chris Murray, from Ashton, first set up the community group after he was forced to leave his construction job and close his business ‘Preston Sweet Boxes’ at the beginning of lockdown.
From preparing extra portions of meals for his neighbours at the start of lockdown, the organisation now gives food parcels to over 200 families at their Tanterton and Ashton food banks.
This afternoon, March 2, the two community groups cooked 210 hot meals, with the majority delivered to children living in the Ashton and Preston area.
They also delivered 500 hot meals to families in need over November half-term last year, but are now urgently appealing for donations as demand has soared in recent weeks.
The charity began delivering lunch parcels last October after MPs voted down a motion to extend free school meals.
Chris added: "More and more people have been hit hard and lost their livelihoods, and now find themselves having no option but to access food banks. The system doesn't work and our foodbanks are getting full.
"Just putting food on the table is becoming more and more stressful for people, especially when they can't afford to pay for the rent or bills. I have spoken to so many parents who aren't eating so that they can feed their children. It is heartbreaking."
To apply for the scheme, fill out the form here.
Anyone wishing to donate to the organisation can contact [email protected]
Thanks for reading. If you value what we do and are able to support us, a digital subscription is just £1 per month for the first two months. Try us today by clicking here.