Free meals this summer

East Hampshire District Council’s children’s play service, Playing Around, brought fun and food to families in Whitehill & Bordon this summer with an ambitious partnership project. It teamed up with Radian, Café 1759, the Whitehill & Bordon Community Trust and Energise Me to deliver recipes, hot meals and other fun activities using funding from the EHDC Healthy New Town project. The Playing Around team manned a pop-up hub at Café 1759 in Whitehill & Bordon, with help from volunteers in the community. Families collected daily ingredients for healthy and delicious meals from the hub, and the team provided recipes along with follow-along cooking videos on the Playing Around Facebook page. Local business The Fruit and Veg Man provided all the fruits and vegetables and taxi Firm A.J.L Cars helped deliver them to families who were unable to get to the café due to their personal circumstances. Families could also pick up weekly craft activity kits from Playing Around and sports equipment provided by Energise Me.

The service ran for six weeks and a total of 480 hot meals and 200 recipe bags were handed out, enabling the partnership to support a total of 20 families and 37 children. Cllr Julie Butler, EHDC Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Communities, said: “The summer holidays can be a difficult time for families, and this year many faced the added pressures caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Everyone involved in this project not only provided the food and activities, but also a sense of support, community and a friendly face during a challenging time.”

Managing Director of Community Services at Radian, Michelle Dawson, said: “Working in partnership with our friends in East Hampshire has been a great success this summer. It has enabled us to provide food and activities for those who can’t easily access it themselves, and the outcome has been fantastic. We look forward to working together more in the future.”

A message received from one of the families said: “I wanted to thank you for the food support from Café 1759 and Radian over the summer holidays. My daughter and I have particularly enjoyed the food box options and the opportunity it’s given us to make and try new recipes, many of which have now become family favourites. Due to my disability, preparing food from scratch is problematic and difficult but over the summer we have managed to make a variety of meals and looked forward to seeing what recipe we would receive next. Thank you for arranging for the food parcels to be delivered due to us shielding – you have helped to make a difficult situation slightly easier and given us something to look forward to.”