A community café on Grimsby’s East Marsh is giving away free meals to local children throughout half term in a bid to help struggling families amid the cost of living crisis.
Situated in Grant Thorold Park, The Canopy Community Hub – formerly Tea in the Park – is serving up either breakfast or lunch for children across North East Lincolnshire at no cost whatsoever every day this half term, thanks to generous funding by local business Coldstar Refrigeration.
The scheme has been so successful that on its first day alone, staff at The Canopy gave out 74 meals.
Speaking to Grimsby Live, director Michelle Cook, who also runs the adjoining Grant Thorold Forest School, said: “Last winter we had so many families messaging and contacting us saying they couldn’t afford gas and electricity, and they were really struggling. In January, the figures were that 27 percent of households with children under four were facing food insecurity. So we decided that this year, with having The Canopy open, we could really try and tackle it.”
Between 9am and 11am until Friday, October 27, the café will be providing children with free breakfast options including porridge, cereal, toast and fruits. At lunchtime, children can choose from a packed lunch, a toastie or soup. Each child is entitled to one meal a day, completely free of charge.
Michelle continued: “Last year, when Coldstar Refrigeration knew we had Grant Thorold Forest School, they supported the families by providing vouchers for Christmas food and toys, so that children from families who were were really struggling didn’t miss out at Christmas.
“This year they’ve really stepped up and they’re funding this entire project, because children don’t get the vouchers for free meals during half term anymore. This winter they’re really going to face it. Only this week it was in the news that the East Marsh is the lowest paid area in the country.
“What we’ve realised is that it’s not just families on benefits who are struggling, it’s those that are working as well, and those from outside of the East Marsh. People are coming from all different areas for the free half term meals, because it’s open to everybody, and there’s no stigma attached. The families coming in absolutely love it.”
Michelle hopes to encourage other small businesses in the area to “muck in” and do what they can to help struggling families this winter.
She said: “Grimsby is made up of so many small businesses, so if everyone can just give a little bit to help families, because the rising costs of fuel bills and food costs are having a real impact on children.
“If they’re under four and they’re not eating properly, they don’t develop and they don’t grow. Everybody’s got to muck in and help where they can.”
As well as free kids’ meals during half term, The Canopy Community Hub provides an array of fun activities and events for families in the community to take part in, from craft workshops and ‘build your own pizzas’ to fitness and wellness classes. Find out more here.