In Barry, south Wales, a new initiative to help tackle child food poverty has proved a great success, thanks to the deployment of some good ideas and two converted shipping containers. Wales Online reports that the Big Bocs Bwyd, or Big Box Food, project is making good use of donated food items from local shops and supermarkets.
A shipping container each has been installed at Cadoxton and Oak Field primary schools, to stock food for children and their families on a ‘pay as you feel’ basis. The food is surplus stock that is nearing its sell-by date, but is still perfectly safe to use. The containers are kitted out with fridges and freezers so they can stock perishable goods.
The pilot project has been so successful that there are now plans to roll the scheme out to 10 other schools in south Wales. The Big Bocs Bwyd scheme is run in partnership with FareShare, which is a national network of charitable food redistributors.
Janet Hayward, executive headteacher at Cadoxton Primary School and Oak Field Primary School, told Wales online that she first came across the idea when chatting to a headteacher from Leeds.
Hayward said: “[…] he found he had children coming to school hungry in the mornings. A lot of the supermarkets were able to give food that otherwise would have been put into food waste and he could recycle it, bring it into school, have children prepare snacks and also run a pay as you feel shop.”
She added: “And the project grew and grew in the community centre where a lot of our family engagement work happens and it grew so big that we needed more space. And that is where the idea of the shipping container came, so here in Cadoxton this is the first Big Bocs Bwyd as we call them – Big Food Box.”
Oak Field School, and the neighbouring Ysgol Gwaun Y Nant Primary School, have also joined the scheme. The operation involves everyone from the teachers, learning support assistants, to the parents and children. Besides tackling hunger, children are also learning how to make healthy eating choices, and learning about different ways to prepare food.
The Big Box Food scheme has already expanded to schools in Ammanford, Caerphilly, and Cardiff. Besides the obvious advantages of improving child nutrition and helping families eat well on a tight budget, the project has also helped to create a sense of community, acting as a social hub for the local areas.
Headteacher Janet said that the Big Box scheme, and also the CadField van which school staff drive around Barry on Saturday mornings with stocks of food, is teaching the children about creative enterprise, and helps them to be healthy, ambitious, and ethically informed.
There are calls to expand Big Bocs Bwyd right across Wales, to ensure that every school community has access to cheap and healthy meals. The aim is to create a generation of food literate children who have experience of growing and cooking their own food.
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