Wesley’s Cafe in St Annes is making sure school holidays aren't six weeks of hunger for some resort children
For children living in food poverty, a six-week holiday can also mean six weeks without a proper lunch.
That’s when this St Annes cafe steps in to provide kids with the free meals they would otherwise go without.
For many children, the long summer months means football in the park, trips to the beach, and jetting off on holiday to sunny Italy or Spain.
But for children living in food poverty, a six-week break from school work can also mean six weeks without a hearty lunch.
Youngsters who rely on free school meals to get hold of their five-a-day can find themselves going hungry when the bell rings for the last time on that final day of term.
One group hopes to change that.
Wesley’s Cafe, at the Church Road Methodist Church community hub in St Annes, serves up healthy plates of hot food during the school holidays.
Adults are asked to pay £1 for a breakfast or light lunch at the temporary cafe, which runs until August 29, but children can chow down for free.
Wesley’s Cafe volunteer Jenny Gomery, 50, said: “The cafe is targeting children’s school holidays when they don’t receive a free school meal.
“This time of year, food poverty is a big problem because families lose a free school meal. That’s why we have changed our provision during the holiday times.
“There were about 20 families in just this morning alone.
“We think of everybody being happy during the summer holidays, but for some parents and carers it’s a lot of extra stress. You have school uniforms to buy for September, and children to entertain and look after, and it can be expensive.
“For some children, sadly they go to school with no breakfast. The free school meal they get is their first meal of the day.
“We have parents making that decision whether to feed their children or feed themselves, so a lot of parents will go without food.
“That’s not just people who are unemployed. It can be people who are employed too.”
Wesley’s Cafe runs from Monday to Thursday from 9am until 1pm.
Guests can enjoy a filling breakfast of cereal, croissants and jam, beans on toast, or eggy bread with fresh orange juice, or a lunch of soup, sandwiches or salad, with a scoop of ice cream for dessert.
As well as the cafe, the volunteers run Wesley’s Larder, an informal food bank which also runs at the Church Road Methodist Church community hub on Tuesdays from 10am until 11am.
Bread, cakes and fruit from local shops are given out to anyone in need of a helping hand.
Jenny, a mum-of-two who lives in Freckleton, said: “I think it’s a shame in this society that we’re still having to deal with this. No child should go hungry in this country for any reason.
“Awareness for the need for these things has grown. It’s a national issue, not just a local one. It just so happens that we’re located here in St Annes.
“The people who come and eat are really grateful and it’s a really good atmosphere. Nobody asks why you’re there. It’s just a normal cafe with normal rules; the only difference is that it happens to be on church premises.
There’s no stigma attached to coming in. Everyone is welcome.
“We ask for £1 from adults, but even if someone has no money we won’t turn them away. Nobody leaves Wesley’s Cafe hungry.
“If you have got some time to give, we’re always looking for new volunteers, either cooking, shopping, collecting, delivering or serving. When you’re giving something to your community, it makes you feel good.”