Q. Do your children normally receive means-tested Free School Meals?
Q. Have you received any support with food for your children since schools have been closed? And if you have, what was the support like?
As we home school, always have, we don't qualify for additional support such as vouchers. However, my children attend a youth club at our local community centre who have been very busy each week sending a bag if activities and food items to children. This normally includes some colouring sheets, a craft activity or two (such as paper plates, glitter and pipe cleaners or masks and colouring pens or cut out activities, etc), most weeks also includes a recipe and ingredients for a baking or cooking activity (sometimes for cookies or cupcakes but also sometimes for tuna bake or wraps). Then they're sometimes some random additional snacks or good items, often in the form of tinned sweetcorn or out of date bread items. Sometimes you find a lone potato or onion as the bottom of the bag that offers amusement if little else. These are nice and helps my kids to see the staff members and remind them that in a few months they'll be back at the centre playing with other kids soon enough and no one has forgotten them in our isolation. Recently I've managed to reduce my bills a little and up my food spending, so my kids aren't going without in any sense food wise, even plenty of snacks and the odd takeaway, so when the bag of food items arrives each week, I share with my neighbour who's in my bubble as she's on even less money than I am. She can get some aid from the community centre, as they've set up a sort of shop there with bags of veggies for a quid, meal kits and other items normally for a pound per collective of items (one bag with meal ingredients plus recipe or five toiletries of choice, that sorta thing) but who has a collection of pound coins these days, I know I don't. Last year, when the first lockdown was around and I was forced onto universal credit, food aid was also provided through the community centre but by a different group. It'll come in the form of a box or a couple of bags of food items. You could always tell which bag was from the community group and with from the food bank group by the food quality. Food, especially bread, from the youth club group was fresh, within dates and made sense, eg it wasn't just random food items but foods that could be grouped into meals, often with recipes also. Whereas the food bank group would often send stale, sometimes mouldy bread, slimy and blackened veg and seemingly random tins. After a few months of this I decided I'd rather skip meals and buy my own shopping than keep receiving these additional food parcels that I was worried would lead to food poisoning for my family. So I'm much happier to go without aid than to get such dehumanising and unsafe food aid.