Meeting and eating
Heather Al-Jawad on an initiative to tackle holiday hunger in the Chilterns
Chesham is a small town in the Chilterns, at the end of the Metropolitan tube line. It has a diverse range of housing, large and small, with several churches of different denominations and a thriving British Asian community. Chesham United Reformed Church is a small congregation, and has been looking for a minister for several years. That hasn’t stopped us from being very actively involved in outreach in the town.
When our Community Link Facilitator, Rosemary, joined us about five years ago, she felt there was a need for some provision for low-income families during school holidays – way before lockdown arrived. The town already had a food bank and community fridge, but after talking to Bridget, our retired minister, Rosemary researched how we could further respond to the need we found in Chesham. She discovered MakeLunch, an initiative which had been started by a lady in the north of England to help combat holiday hunger.
It is now is a nationwide organisation to enable and equip churches to support struggling children through holiday lunch clubs. These provide hot and healthy meals to children and families who would otherwise go hungry. Since MakeLunch began, partner churches have cooked and served 120,000 meals in more than a hundred locations in the UK. In 2018, our church became a MakeLunch franchise, while MakeLunch itself has joined the Transforming Lives for Good network.
Kitchens are run by volunteers, and after elders and Church Meetings gave their approval, Rosemary and two of our elders, Heather and Kate, went for training. After a slow start, covering one day a week in the school holidays, we had a rethink and rebrand. The result was Meet and Eat, offering a safe place on church premises where children and families could meet, play, and then eat. As the group grew, more volunteers joined from our church, other churches and beyond, to help supervise play, serve up the hot meals, clear away crafts and clean the premises, all in two hours, usually twice a week….
Heather Al-Jawad is an elder at Chesham United Reformed Church
This is an extract from an article published in the May 2021 edition of Reform