Filling the Gap

A project linking schools and churches to provide food and activities to families in need during school holidays

In the grip of the coronavirus pandemic, the idea for the ‘Filling the Gap’ project was initiated by Bishop Graham with the intention of helping alleviate food poverty for families during the summer holidays through the provision of food hampers.

Although the announcement in June – provoked by a high profile campaign by Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford – that the government in England would provide a £120 million COVID-19 summer school fund to provide vouchers for the 1.3 million children who qualify for Free School Meals (FSM) came as a relief to many, it was felt right to continue implementing the Diocesan project. This was largely due to the recognition that food poverty is an issue that affects the whole family, as well as the fact that many schools can identify families who don’t qualify for FSM but would really benefit from the additional help.

A period of information gathering and preparation followed, led by colleagues from the Diocese of Norwich Education Department and Children, Youth and Families team, in time to launch ‘Filling the Gap’ at the start of the school summer holidays in 2020.

The summer scheme ran from the week beginning Monday 27 July for six weeks until the week beginning Monday 31 August. In total 22 Church of England schools participated from across the diocese and a total of 131 families each received a weekly food hamper containing three days of food provisions for the whole family, delivered to them by a local church volunteer.

Alongside weekly deliveries of hampers, it was decided that part of the gap to fill was the social and physical provision for these families. So, each family also received weekly craft or sporting resource throughout the summer.

Following the summer scheme the team were delighted that a number of churches were inspired and equipped to initiate their own localised projects linking directly with their local schools to identify and provide for families in need within their communities. This paves the way for the continuing work of the project in 2021 helping to support churches to respond to local need through an active relationship with their schools.

On Monday 14 December the central team mobilised again to deliver the Christmas hamper scheme working with 21 schools and serving 163 families. In addition to an ambient food box and activity bag each family received a fruit and vegetable box direct from a local Norfolk company, to supplement their Christmas supplies.

We are grateful to a number of generous funders who have financially supported the project:

Anne French Trust

Norfolk Community Foundation

Paul Bassham Trust

Geoffrey Watling Trust

RC Snelling Charitable Trust

We are also grateful to other organisations who have given their support and assistance:

Norwich Foodbank (The Trussell Trust)

Mid-Norfolk Foodbank (The Trussell Trust)

Kings Lynn Foodbank (The Trussell Trust)

Lowestoft Foodbank (The Trussell Trust)

Great Yarmouth Foodbank

SOUL Foundation

Mothers’ Union Diocese of Norwich

Direct Packaging Dereham

If you would like to find out more about running a food hamper scheme for vulnerable families in your community, contact