Why this city school has set up its own food bank to feed families

Year 3 and Year 4 pupils at West Earlham Junior School, who have set up a food bank

Year 3 and Year 4 pupils at West Earlham Junior School, who have set up a food bank - Credit: Dan Reynolds

A junior school in the city is making sure none of its pupils go home hungry having launched its own on-site food bank.

West Earlham Junior School in Scarnell Road is hoping that by having their own foodbank some of the stigmas around asking for help will be broken down.

The school added it wants parents living on the breadline to feel they have a place where they are truly supported.

Deputy head Dan Reynolds is behind the project, saying he wants the bank to feel more like a "social supermarket" than anything else.

He explained: "We've found that some parents are reluctant to come and speak to us.

West Earlham deputy head Dan Reynolds

West Earlham deputy head Dan Reynolds - Credit: Dan Reynolds

"What I'd envisaged is a bank in the school's reception where parents can come and help themselves to anything you'd normally find in a food bank.

"We want to break down those barriers."

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West Earlham is hoping to get a boost from Tesco's community grants team, where the school has its own section in Norwich stores where people can drop their blue tokens. 

If successful, the school could get a £1,500 grant to help set up and stock its bank.

"We have children in our classrooms living on the breadline. So many families are struggling, especially with energy prices increasing.

"In Earlham, plenty goes on to support the community, so we want to make sure we're doing our bit as well," he added.

Hannah Worsley, Norwich Food Bank project manager said that food aid - in any model - shouldn't need to exist at all.

Project manager Hannah Worsley . PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Norwich Food Bank project manager Hannah Worsley - Credit: Nick Butcher

She said: "There is still a stigma around using food banks, so if parents and families are going to schools it's possibly not quite so difficult to ask for help. Going to an outside service like ours may feel a bit scary."

Back in December, charities and volunteers shared their fears that 2022 was set to be a year of financial hardship due to soaring living costs.

Hannah explained: "We've actually seen a slight decrease, but that's because - in Norwich particularly - there's a lot of other food aid now available.

"Although we're seeing slightly less people, it's not because the demand has gone down."

'A tsunami of people need help'

Chrissie Rumsby, who represents the Labour Party and Mile Cross on Norfolk County Council, is involved in a foodbank at the Phoenix Hub in Mile Cross Road.

She has lost count of the amount of people coming through their doors in the last week.

Chrissie Rumsby, Labour county councillor for Mile Cross in Norwich, in the kitchen preparing meals

Chrissie Rumsby, Labour county councillor for Mile Cross in Norwich, in the kitchen preparing meals at the Phoenix Centre - Credit: Simon Floyd

"The phone hasn't stopped ringing," she said.

"I'm totally devastated for the fact that people are in this position. People work and can't make ends meet.

"Those who are in power and can actually help don't realise the reality of it all.

"You wonder where this all will end.

"We're scratching our heads thinking how can we cope?

"We feel helpless.

"The worst is yet to even begin, and this is where we are. 

"The amount of people that contact us in desperation - it's a tsunami of people needing help."