Help a Hungry Child: How your money will help these children achieve their full potential

Thanks to money raised in The Independent's Christmas appeal, Hazel Community Primary School in Leicester will be one of the first in the country to benefit from the Felix Project's new scheme to ensure no child goes to school hungry

Lucy Pasha-Robinson
Thursday 14 December 2017 18:47 GMT
Headteacher Andrew Lintern said he hoped the initiative would show parents the school is there to support them
Headteacher Andrew Lintern said he hoped the initiative would show parents the school is there to support them (Hazel Community Primary School)

Nestled in a bustling residential area off the Leicester ring road is Hazel Community Primary School.

400 children, aged four to 11, come here to learn each day. But despite their energy on the playground, some of them are regularly going hungry.

“The main thing we see here is children falling asleep,” Year two teacher Andrew Lintern said. “We often hear children saying 'I'm hungry, I haven't eaten breakfast', so we have to sort something out for them because they are just not being fed in the morning.”

For many of the parents here, rising food prices and stagnating wages have dealt a harsh blow to what they are able to provide for their families, Mr Lintern said.

“It is the cost of food that is preventing them from getting enough to eat. We have parents who end up on wages that are just not enough to support the whole family,” he said. “And they are quite proud parents here so they won't necessarily complain about it but definitely there are families here who struggle to provide enough food.”

Mother-of-six Nicola Allen-Jones often feels the strain. “I have to really budget on what I spend with the kids, I have to limit what they can have,” she said.

Her six-year-old Summer loves eating bananas and strawberries but often Nicola can't afford to buy enough for all of the children. “I would love to be able to give them more fruit and vegetables, but I have to make sacrifices,” she said. “I have to go without so I can provide for these. I don't buy myself anything and coming up to Christmas, I just can't buy anything, I have to limit myself.”

The 32-year-old makes sure her children get breakfast before they leave for school, but some of the children here will have just had a glass of milk, or half a jam sandwich. Others will have bought some sweets on the way in, leaving them lacking key nutrients and the energy they need to get through the morning.

“The knock-on effect is huge. If they don't come in having eaten, their learning is totally disrupted, they will have lost the whole morning as far as I'm concerned,” Mr Lintern said.

“I would just like to see the children here reach their potential and not be held back by them being hungry, because that is one of the biggest barriers I can see to learning, sometimes their concentration is just not there.”

As many as 500,000 children go to school hungry each day across the country. That's why for this year's Christmas appeal, The Independent is backing The Felix Project to support those families living on the breadline.

The charity has been working since 2016 to fight hunger with leftover in-date produce that would otherwise have been destined for landfill, responding to the twin demons of food poverty and food surplus.

Now, it will be channelling all funds raised by the appeal into a market stall scheme in primary schools, where children and their parents can help themselves to produce as they go home at the end of the day.

The scheme launched in two London schools this month and now, thanks to readers' generosity, it will be rolled out at Hazel Primary on Wednesday 20 December.

The Felix Project will be taking a large van from their flagship depot in Park Royal, laden with fruit, vegetables, yoghurt, porridge and bread to the school for parents and their children to fill up a paper bag to take home.

Nicola said the scheme would be a real help to make ends meet before Christmas.

“I think it will be amazing. With the prices of fruit and veg, they're so expensive, it really mounts up,” she said. “I have to live off £60 a week, so it'll really help.”

Mr Lintern said he hoped the stall would show parents the school is there to support them.

“I just think it will give parents a big boost. The children will love it, the parents will love it, it's something different but it's also a chance to show them the school is thinking about them,” Mr Lintern said.

“I think it'll definitely help parents stretch their budgets a bit. My school want to eat well, they like their fruit but it's about getting it for prices they can afford.”

The charity aims to roll out the scheme to 120 schools in London, but is also identifying the most deprived areas nationwide to help tackle food poverty across the country. Hazel Primary in Leicester will be the first school to be helped outside of London.

Every £1 donated will ensure a primary school child and their family has the food needed for a nutritious meal. £500 will enable a new school to be recruited to the programme.

Here are the ways you can donate to our Christmas appeal:

Call – Freephone – 08000 639 281

Text – FELIX £5 to 70700

Click –

Post – Freepost – HELP A HUNGRY CHILD

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