Bolton: Star Academies schools to set up food banks from September

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With more than a third of children in Bolton living in poverty and cost of living pressures rising, our special report gets to the heart of the crisis facing young people in our borough. Here, we take a look at how a group of leading academies will set up food banks in an attempt to alleviate hunger.

Two Bolton schools, both recognized as ‘outstanding’, will run food banks starting this fall as families battle the rising cost of living.

Star Academies, which runs the Olive School on Waterloo Road and Eden Boys School on Wolfenden Street, will both run food banks at its 31 schools nationwide from September.

Schools have already run food banks during the pandemic as well as seasonal drives, but this marks a new, perhaps more permanent, frontier in the ongoing fight against poverty.

Star Academies Chief Executive Sir Mufti Hamid CBE said: “Helping to reduce food and fuel poverty will remain a key priority for all Star Schools for the foreseeable future.

“Children cannot learn well if they are hungry or anxious, and we are trying to do everything we can to ensure that the cost of living crisis does not impact students’ well-being or their school results.

“Eden Boys School, Bolton and The Olive School, Bolton have put in place a number of initiatives to support pupils, families and staff who are most affected by the cost of living crisis.

“For example, schools provide a food bank for their students, parents and staff to ensure they have access to nutritious meals and in some cases we are even able to offer delivery with some former students. Eden Boys’ School who support the distribution of food to the local community.

“At the same time, schools will also support families and staff by referring them to other organizations that can help with the cost of living, such as their home energy costs, and by providing a hardship fund for those who are struggling. most need.

“We can only achieve this by working with our committed students, staff and the wider Star family who selflessly volunteer their time to help members of the local community.

“As one of our STAR values, community service is in our DNA and we actively encourage our students to give back to their communities and engage in activities that strengthen their sense of social responsibility.”

Eden Boys School, Wolfenden Street, Bolton

It comes after findings published by the End Child Poverty Coalition showing that more than a third of young people in Bolton live in poverty.

NEU Deputy Branch Secretary Julia Simpkins said: “There are areas of Bolton where families have always struggled to provide a balanced diet for their children and now, with the cost of living soaring , they struggle to provide any diet.

“Now we have mothers choosing not to feed themselves just so they can feed their children.”

She added: “Obviously it’s not a problem at the moment, but in winter, when it’s cold, there are families who can’t buy winter clothes, so their children get cold.”

“It’s a shame that this government has allowed us to get into a position where schools have to step in to fill those gaps, but increasingly that’s what we have to do.”

For teachers on the frontline, the fact that schools must now step in to ensure children are fed is a sign of growing desperation.

Michelle Greaves, NEU Senior Regional Officer, said: “A lot of these schools you’ll find are in deprived areas, it frankly depends on the circumstances, but Star Academies is where they go out of their way to improve students’ chances. in life.”

She added: “I didn’t realize they did this all year round, but they consider themselves a family of schools, so I imagine they do whatever they can to help families there.”

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