Crowdfunding page raises £6,700 for free school meals

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And now those behind the project have set their target even higher.

Audrey Laurens-Chalmers and her daughter Mollie set up a fundraising page last month, with the aim of raising enough money to supply 1,282 free meal vouchers for vulnerable students at Haute Vallée, Grainville, Les Quennevais and Hautlieu.

After surpassing their target, the pair now hope to raise £7,800 to pay for 2,000 meals. The funds raised will be given to the charity Caring Cooks, which will provide the schools with their ‘Have a Lunch on Us’ meal vouchers – worth £4 each – entitling pupils to a free hot meal, dessert and water. All meals will be freshly prepared by the charity’s catering team on school premises and include fresh fruit and vegetables to meet school food standards.

‘Government data suggests that around 1,000 children and young people may not be accessing a hot meal each day, and we believe this number is higher since the pandemic started, so it’s vital that families are able to access nutritious food through either our weekly meal service or our Flourish school meal programme,’ said Yvonne Corbin, fundraising and marketing manager at Caring Cooks.

‘Audrey’s compassion is incredible – she really understands the problem that a lot of families are facing, particularly as many are still feeling the financial effects of lockdown, and wanted to do something that is quick to do and will make an impact immediately.’

Mrs Laurens-Chalmers explained that she had been inspired to set up the fundraising campaign in light of the government’s school meal pilot scheme, launched in 2019 in collaboration with Caring Cooks, which currently provides free meals to pupils at Janvrin and Samarès primary schools.

In December last year, States Members rejected proposals to extend the pilot programme to all of Jersey’s primary schools.

‘From my point of view, I’m not going to be happy until every school offers it,’ said Mrs Laurens-Chalmers.

‘Jersey has an obesity epidemic and that is really down to poor nutrition and parents not able to afford to give children the food they need. We thought it was pretty disgraceful for Jersey not to be offering school meals free of charge and wanted to do something quickly – we don’t want to wait for another six months or years.’

Click here to donate to the campaign.

According to Caring Cooks in Jersey:

  • One in three 11-year-olds will leave school overweight or obese, with 85% of them remaining that way into adulthood
  • Only 25% of children are eating five fruit and vegetables a day
  • Each day, as many as 1,000 children may be going without a hot meal
  • 15% of adults don’t have the skills to cook a meal from scratch
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