Toddlers at a charity pre-school in one of Brighton’s most impoverished areas enjoy tucking into snacks of celery, carrots and peppers.
The delivery from food distribution charity FareShare Brighton and Hove provides breakfast and a teatime snack for the 36 children enrolled at Puffin Pre-School Nursery.
A hot lunch is also served to the children, delivered by another company.
It is an unusual stop for FareShare volunteers, who also visit hostels, refuges and food banks with food.
Two years ago the pre-school charity, based in Millwood Community Centre, near Kingswood Street, started taking the food, amid concerns about the children’s diets.
Deputy supervisor Jo Souter, who has worked at the nursery for 12 years, said: “In the past we have had concerns that this is the only place where children get a meal at all.”
Fruit and veg
Nursery manager Alex Paterson said: “We’re one of the top ten most deprived areas in the city.
“Many children arrived in the morning and hadn’t eaten, which is why we started serving breakfast.
“Their behaviour is much better once they have eaten and their concentration improves.
“We give the children the opportunity to get a full diet.
“A lot of parents can’t afford a range of fruit and vegetables because it’s very expensive.”
And he has serious concerns that many parents are unaware of benefit cuts which will bite in April, adding: “I don’t think they know what is coming.”
Yesterday (November 28) morning the Brighton and Hove Food Partnership brought together the city’s agencies, charities and authorities to discuss food poverty and how to address it.
Claire Devereux, from Brighton-based Food Matters, said: “With rising food prices and benefits and income squeezes people are struggling to feed themselves well.”
The Puffin Nursery was graded outstanding in all areas in its last Ofsted report, praised in particular for working closely with parents to support the children’s food intake and diet.
Mr Paterson said: “We have a lot of young parents who are teenagers and are still learning life skills themselves.
“The majority of our parents are receiving some sort of benefits. And in this area there is a lot of rented accommodation and social housing.”
The children learn about healthy food, cook with the staff and can sit down and snack on healthy food when they please.
In the summer they go to Pick Your Own farms, returning with fruit and making jam, which is then served in sandwiches and on rice pudding.
Mr Paterson said: “We have constant pressure to employ a quality staff team, keep our costs low and fees competitive.
“It’s fantastic what FareShare do – it makes food less of a worry for our parents. For a lot of our families it’s very hard living in an expensive city to afford to feed their children five portions of fruit and veg a day.”
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