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Churches and schools partner to feed families in the summer holidays

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The Diocese of Norwich “Filling the Gap” project was born in April out of a vision from the Rt Revd Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich. He set the education team a challenge to offer a “rainbow of hope” to local families during the summer break.

Paul Dunning, Director of Education explains:

“Working with our network of schools, who know their communities well, we have identified where families are going to struggle through the school holidays and would value being provided with food to help them whilst children are at home. Much of this is taking place in rural communities where no-one else is filling this gap. Local churches and food banks have worked with staff from my team to organise a weekly food parcel delivered to their front door. A big thank you to all who’ve contributed to this valuable project.”

Liaising with 110 Church of England schools and academies, Filling the Gap empowers the local church to deliver hampers to the need identified through the schools. Working with partners, food has been sourced food for 128 families. The Norfolk Showground provided one of their buildings to act as a central warehouse to sort and process the packages. As well as the county’s foodbanks, the Soul Foundation and the Norfolk Community Foundation assisted with the provision of food.

Alongside weekly deliveries of hampers, it was decided that an important part of the gap to fill was the social and physical provision for these families. So, each family will also receive weekly craft and sporting resources throughout the summer.

“It has been a remarkable journey and we are grateful to all our partners from sponsors, volunteers, food providers and encouragers,” said Filling the Gap project co-ordinator Jon Moule. “We truly hope that the food hampers and activity packs will be a blessing to these families over the summer holidays. Through this project we can express our mission values. In real and practical ways, we are sharing our bread with one another, loving our neighbour and acting as stewards of God’s creation and provision.”

Following the first drop off one of the families responded: “We have just received our food hamper and would like to express our gratitude to everyone that has been involved. You have been so generous and we cannot thank you all enough. This is a really huge help to our family and we are so thankful for your generosity. As soon as we are in a position ourselves we will certainly be donating back to the community. From the bottom of our hearts thank you.”

Anna Main, Children Youth & Families Adviser and project co-ordinator said: “For many people, the recent season of coronavirus lockdown has brought additional fear, worry and hardship, and for families already facing adversity this has been a particularly difficult time.

“In the Bible, Jesus not only spoke but acted with compassion to touch the lives of people in need. In Matthew 25: 35-40 we read about ministering to those who are hungry and thirsty, and as Christians, part of our mission and outworking of faith is to respond to human need by loving service.    

“Food banks and other agencies have been working extremely hard in recent months to meet the increased demand for food provision and through Filling the Gap we wanted to partner with them to support and bless families who may otherwise go without adequate food this summer.”

This project complements the existing work of many of the churches and connected partnerships throughout the Diocese of Norwich who have been and continue to feed families across Norfolk and Waveney throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. You can find out more about these here.

This project is supported by Norfolk Community Foundation through COVID-19 Local Resilience Fund.