Poplar Street Primary – going above and beyond to feed children in need

1 July 2020

Poplar Street Primary is served by FareShare Greater Manchester in Openshaw, where demand for its service has soared since the coronavirus outbreak.

The Greater Manchester warehouse team is typically distributing almost double the amount of food it usually would week on week, to over 250 frontline charities and community groups across the region – with as many as 50,000 people at risk of hunger accessing this food each week.

Tameside-based Poplar Street Primary is one of these projects. Usually, the school uses FareShare food as part of its breakfast club, ensuring children’s tummies are full so they are healthy and ready to learn during the school day – but when the crisis forced the UK into a nationwide lockdown, which included the closure of schools, Headteacher Iain Linsdell knew he had to find a way to keep getting good food onto the plates of their most vulnerable pupils.

The primary school is based in Audenshaw, where one in five children are growing up below the poverty line. With many families in low paid jobs and/or in precarious work, Iain recognised that for many low income families and children, the lockdown would mean they’d be unable to access food and therefore be at risk of going hungry.

“During the coronavirus crisis, all schools closed across the UK, but in many respects our partnership with FareShare enabled us to become a different kind of community hub so instead of families and kids coming to us, we’re going out to them,” Iain explained.

“Our FareShare relationship meant that we were able to deliver high quality food from supermarkets and wholesalers straight to families’ doors. I had staff members meeting children, having that human connection and also doing a brilliant community service – and that’s what it’s all about.”

Asked what would happen if Poplar Street Primary could no longer get FareShare food, Iain said: “Without FareShare, there would be hunger and hardship on a scale that we have probably never experienced in our communities. With FareShare, we’re able to reach our community and provide families with a weekly food delivery, which stops them from having to go out to the shops and spend money they really can’t afford.

“It’s keeping our community connected in a way that’s familiar and reassuring both to staff and children. It’s bringing a little bit of normality to everyone’s lives in these exceptional times. Working with FareShare is just a brilliant win-win.”