Families had fun in the kitchen this school holidays and learnt new recipes and skills thanks to a fantastic offer for children entitled to Free School Meals. Over 1,300 kits were made up - which included four days of fresh ingredients to make recipes from pizza, to frittata and risotto, and even a ready to go picnic box for one of the days.
The idea came from a pilot project that ran in Matson, Robinswood, White City, Tuffley and Podsmead during February half-term which saw three different recipe kits given out to over 150 families across one week. This pilot was so popular that Gloucestershire County Council wanted to upscale the project to be made available to all Free School Meals families in Gloucestershire.
Dawn Barnes, Project Manager at The Venture: White City, said: "The scale of the project was like nothing we have done before. The team of volunteers were on site at 5am to take delivery of fresh produce to put into the cooking kits to go out that morning and then would work through the day to prepare the kits for the following day. It was a mammoth effort only made possible by the hard work of volunteers of all ages giving up their time to support this project - many of whom were doing 10 hour shifts each day."
"What has been great about this project is that we have been able to give families fresh, quality produce to cook meals that they might not have had before and we know that this was really appreciated with lots of families commenting that they get stuck in a rut of cooking the same meals but these kits pushed them to try new things. The pizza's were the biggest hit with many people saying they will never buy pizza again!"
Gloucestershire Gateway Trust were delighted to support the coordination of this mammoth project, which was funded by Gloucestershire County Council. Many community organisations across the city were collection points for families to collect their kits each day.
Dawn said: "The feedback we have had has been amazing. Families have been grateful for the thought and care that went into all of the kits, commenting about how great it has been to cook together, to get the children to try new things and we have had many comments that people's fridges have never been so full of fruit and veg!"
"I just wanted to message and send my thanks for the home food kits last week. All the bags were full of lovely fresh ingredients and it was fun making meals together. The ladies handing out the kits were so friendly and Archie enjoyed going every day to see them and get the "surprise" as he called it ha ha. His favourite day was the picnic bag. Please send my thanks to everyone involved - a great initiative and huge help in these difficult times."
The food offer was also bolstered by the addition of 4,000 craft and activity packs which included den building kits and instructions from Play Gloucestershire and reading books from Read with Me.
One excited recipient said: "Wow! David Walliams “Millionaire Boy” is soooo funny. I felt like it was my birthday getting something so amazing. Thank you. Charlie aged 8."