‘School’s food bank has saved our Christmas’

Community: Staff and students run the emergency food bank at Outwood Academy Hemsworth.
Community: Staff and students run the emergency food bank at Outwood Academy Hemsworth.

A school’s pop-up food bank has “saved Christmas” for families who have been struggling to buy presents.

The emergency service, at Outwood Academy Hemsworth, has proved so popular among members of the community that, on Monday, shelves emptied in less than 10 minutes.

One person who attended told staff: “You’ve saved Christmas for so many families.”

The no-questions-asked emergency food bank is open to all, and no names or details of those who rely on the supplies are taken.

Staffed by members of the school, it relies on donations from students, staff, parents and members of the community.

It is estimated that as many as 60 visitors collect food from the school each evening.

Toby Rutter, the school’s principal, said: “Families are extremely grateful.

“We don’t want any barriers in place.

“The school needs to be the centre of the community, and we’re quite proud that it is.”

The food bank was launched to support the community in the run-up to Christmas, particularly those who face a gap in their benefits as Universal Credit is rolled out.

The benefit, a new type of payment for working people which merges six benefits into one, was recently described in a report by the UN as a “harsh and arbitrary” system.

Many people face a gap of up to five weeks as they wait for their claim to be processed.

Thanks to the academy’s work, families have told staff that they can now afford to buy presents and other luxuries for their children this Christmas.

WDH and Outwood Grange Academy Trust have each donated £1,000 to support the school’s project in the run up to Christmas.

The final food pop-up food bank will take place at Outwood Academy Hemsworth on Thursday, December 20, from 4.30pm to 5.30pm.