Super schools go the extra mile to deliver a square meal and wrap-around care

Up to 1,000 food parcels per week are set to be delivered to the homes of pupils across the county over the next fortnight by Somerset County Council Transport.

The vital deliveries will supplement the efforts of many school sites continuing to provide hot meals and/or vouchers to eligible children  – while they also  provide care for children of key workers.

In the first week of the holiday 350 food parcels containing food stuffs such as pasta, rice and tinned goods, were delivered from kitchens across the county as part of a mammoth effort to make sure vulnerable children and families are fed in these challenging times. Over the coming weeks that figure will rise to 1,000 food parcels.

Schools with food production capabilities are supporting schools without these facilities or where the Food Voucher scheme is difficult to use in the more remote areas of the county. As demand increases other sites may be mobilised using redeployed staff and volunteers.

The Oak Partnership multi-academy trust is not only sending out a hot lunch every day to pupils and their families in biodegradable boxes from its West Monkton Primary site in Taunton, they’re also providing wrap-around care for key workers’ children – from 7.30am to 6pm five days a week throughout the Easter holiday and beyond.  At the moment they’re looking after up to 47 pupils, with more due to attend soon.

As well as providing three meals a day for children attending its sites at West Monkton Primary and Hazelbrook Campus, the Oak Partnership ‘Hub’ is continuing its hot lunch offer for school communities throughout the Easter holidays. In the first week it delivered 18 – it’s now up to 133.

Oak Chief Executive Ian Robinson said the ‘need was great’ across the areas of Taunton served by the schools.

“We’re assisting with the Government school voucher scheme too – but the daily lunch offer is open to all, regardless of whether they qualify, and if they have vouchers they can still order a lunch.

“I want to thank my amazing team – everyone just wants to help and do what they can, we’re all pulling together to help our communities and those vital key workers so they can do their job.”

Around 140 of the Partnership’s 300 staff are continuing to work on a rota system to ensure sites are fully operational throughout the week.

There is a comprehensive virtual school for the many pupils staying at home, which is regularly updated and monitored by teachers with a wide range of activities and work.

Many other schools across Somerset are carrying out similar work to ensure vulnerable children and their families get a square meal and are doing a “fantastic job” said Somerset County Council’s Director of Children’s Services, Julian Wooster.

He added: “I cannot thank our school staff enough for the amazing job they’re doing to ensure our key workers can do their jobs while at the same time getting hot meals out to vulnerable families.”

The Oak Partnership comprises West Monkton, Ruishton CofE and Blackbrook Primaries, along with Selworthy School, which caters for pupils with special educational needs and/or a disability (SEND) and is continuing to provide a service for vulnerable pupils at its Hazlebrook Campus site.

*The Government is extending financial support to children eligible for benefits-related free school meals who are not attending school during the Easter holidays. The guidance can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance

*Contact your school in the first instance if you need assistance to access free school meals or vouchers. If that’s not possible contact Somerset’s Coronavirus helpline 0300 790 6275 about this or any other issues affecting you or your family at this difficult time.

Submitted by Communications