Monday, 01 March 2021

Number of children eligible for free school meals doubles since first lockdown

Number of children eligible for free school meals doubles since first lockdown

ABOUT 70 children are attending Sonning Common Primary School during the coronavirus lockdown.

The school in Grove Road is closed except to children of key workers and those who are considered vulnerable.

They receive a hot lunch each day provided by Kites Kitchen, the schools caterer.

It is also supplying 47 food boxes for children eligible for free school meals each week. This compares with 25 during the first coronavirus lockdown last year.

The boxes include vegetables, a range of meat products, cheese, eggs, tinned foods, milk and more. There is also a list of recommended recipes.

Sarah Sayer, 53, who runs Kites Kitchen and lives in Grove Road, said she wanted to make sure the children were getting the protein they needed.

“It’s obvious what children need to have for a nutritious meal. I include sausages from Carl Wood’s butchers and I also put in chicken, ham and eggs so they are getting a good selection.”

Mrs Sayer, whose own children went through the school, orders the supplies from her usual supplier and occasionally uses Tesco in Reading Road, Henley. “When I can get a slot for delivery or click and collect I will,” she said.

During the first lockdown, she put together the boxes on her own but this time she has been able to keep on two of her staff thanks to the part-time furlough scheme.

“It’s quite labour intensive,” she said. “It doesn’t seem like much but when there’s more than 20 products it takes a lot of time.

“I’ve got some help this time round, which is great. There’s two of us on a normal day and a third on Wednesdays when we put the boxes together. We are certainly trying our best and the whole school community has been so supportive.

“Sonning Common has such a nice community and loads of people who aren’t even involved in the school have offered to help provide their services. That just wouldn’t happen anywhere else.”

Mrs Sayer said the increase in the number of families eligible for a food box reflected the damaging effect of the pandemic.

Families pick up the food from the school on Wednesdays, or school secretary Chrissy Matthews helps to deliver it around the village.

Mrs Sayer was nominated for the National Association of Head Teachers’ #aboveandbeyond person of the week scheme last year.

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