House of Bread, West Midlands | An #ActiveAte case study

22 July 2019

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“The meals we provide change lives – that’s a fact. It’s an integral part of the families’ survival,” explains Director of House of Bread, Will Morris.

House of Bread was launched ten years ago to provide home-cooked meals for homeless and vulnerable people in Stafford, and in the decade since has expanded to run a food bank as well – increasingly to families and single parents. Will says that, in his experience, food insecurity in Stafford is rising – with the number of parcels handed out having risen threefold since January.

In response to the growing need, earlier this year House of Bread signed up to FareShare West Midlands with the aim of accessing more varied and larger volumes of food at a cheaper cost than buying in shops.

“A lot of the families we support are in a desperate situation. They lead chaotic lives and I dread to think where some would be without projects like ours,” says Will.

“House of Bread operates with the philosophy that a family that eats together, stays together. Food is the draw which brings them into our centre, and once we’ve filled their tummies often that’s when the disclosure comes – either from the parent or child – and they open up about the struggles they’re having.

“From discussions with families, we know that the diets of the majority of the children we support at home is poor – whether there is access only to poor quality, unhealthy food or simply no food at all.

“What we offer here is a space which is safe and calm. The food we provide is nutritious and the kids love trying new things. We don’t judge the families we meet – many of them don’t have the time, money or skills to be able to make healthy meal choices at home.

“A lot of the work we do now is about equipping parents with the skills to make the most of the food they receive by running healthy eating workshops with them and their children.”

Currently House of Bread is open four days a week – but, as the need is growing, they’re aiming for House of Bread to run seven days a week by the end of the year.

“We’ve only been receiving food from FareShare for around four months but its impact already has been brilliant,” Will says. “We get a real variety of items – some of it is the quality you’d expect to find in a posh restaurant! Without our membership we’d simply be unable to get the same volume of food and quality ingredients.

“Using food from FareShare, such as aubergine in soups, we’ve noticed a difference among children. They might not like the idea of vegetables at first but over time we’ve seen their appetites return.”

FareShare West Midlands was able to recruit and serve the charity thanks to funding from Asda through Fight Hunger Create Change, which enabled the Regional Centre to purchase a new chiller for the warehouse. With almost double the capacity of the previous chiller, FareShare West Midlands is aiming to recruit around 60 new charities and community groups, just like House of Bread, in the region in the next year.

Will adds: “It’s a sad indictment of our society that we’re needed, but we’re blessed to be able to help those in need.”

““A lot of the families we support are in a desperate situation. They lead chaotic lives and I dread to think where some would be without projects like ours.”