9 June 2021
“Every child should be able to go to school without having to worry about when lunch is,” says Lucy Dennis, founding member of Help to Make Tummies Full in Walsall, Midlands. Since being founded last October, Help to Make Tummies Full has been doing almost daily food parcel deliveries. In the time they’ve been operating they’ve helped over 4,000 children get nutritious meals and snacks.
Like so many others, Lucy and the group of mums with whom she founded Help to Make Tummies Full took inspiration from the work of footballer and FareShare ambassador Marcus Rashford: “It’s 2021 now, no child should be going hungry. I was reading about what Marcus Rashford was doing and how Covid was making things worse than ever. I thought we have to do something, so the next day I put up a poster.
“We knew there were problems but the influx of people was just huge,” says Lucy, explaining that food from FareShare has been a huge help in keeping up with demand.
“FareShare makes it so much easier,” explains Lucy, “it means we can rely on this constant flow of food, and nice things like tuna, so we know there aren’t going to be gaps in what we provide. We put about 60 items in every hamper we send out. We get lots of ready meals and pies from FareShare, which is great because its just something simple that they don’t have to prepare. Lots of fresh fruit and veg as well, which has that nutrition that a child needs. Yogurts, which are great – the kids love them and it means that they can have a snack to bring to school and they don’t have to feel left out. The food we get from FareShare is really things that you can make nice, whole, family meals out of.”
Help to Make Tummies Full is formed largely of parents helping parents, who know all too well that food insecurity is about more than meals: “It’s not just a hungry child, it’s a child that can’t concentrate at school, and grows up feeling like they’re not entitled to the same as other children. Every child deserves a full tummy. It’s the key to a good education, happiness and self-esteem. So if we can give them that little bit of help it can mean the world. One woman we were able to give her the first real Christmas dinner with her family – we delivered a whole cart with turkey, veg, gravy, pudding. The year before they’d only had ham and egg. The children were so happy, they said it was the best Christmas ever.”
Working to fill tummies has brought about a bigger change in the community: “Food is at our core, but we do so much more than that,” says Lucy. “It’s really brought our community together to help reduce judgement. There must be no worse feeling as a parent than waking up and not knowing how you’re going to get your children breakfast. We want people to know that it’s ok, we all have tough times but there is support.”