Oldham General Practice staff and patients help to provide more than one thousand free school lunches over half term
Dr Harpal Hunjan, a GP at Hopwood House Medical Practice in Oldham and Clinical Director for Oldham Central South Primary Care Network (PCN), was inspired by her eleven year old son to help provide free school meals during October half term.
Harpal’s son, Krishan had seen the coverage on the news about how some children could go hungry over the October half term holiday and asked his mum if there was anything they could do to help.
They went straight to a supermarket and purchased bread, sandwich fillings, fruit, drinks and treats, but realised that they needed some help to get the project off the ground.
Harpal messaged some other local GPs and practice staff to see if they wanted to get involved. Staff at St Mary’s Medical Practice and Greenbank Medical Practice jumped at the chance to help and it was decided that Hopwood House and Greenbank would give out school lunches for the five weekdays of half term and St Mary’s on the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Each child was given a sandwich, drink, piece of fruit and a treat. Lots of people across the practices helped out, whether by making sandwiches and putting the lunches together, donating food or money to buy produce or helping to spread the word about the lunches to local families, schools and community groups. When possible, children were also given long life items as well so they could help stock up their cupboards at home as well.
During the half term practices were overwhelmed by how many lunches were needed. At the start of the project they were concerned that they might have lots of fresh food leftover but by the end of the week, they had given out around 1,100 lunches.
Other practices across Oldham including Alexandra Group Medical Practice, Littletown Family Medical Practice and Pennine Medical Centre, also supported the project by donating food, money for produce etc. and patients from practices across Oldham also kindly donated food as well.
About the project Harpal said: “It was an amazing week, I can’t believe we were able to provide more than one thousand lunches in just five days. When Krishan asked if there was something we can do to help I was so proud of him and so pleased we were able to help so many children and families.
“I would like to thank everyone who supported with this project, whether they donated food, money to buy produce or helped to spread the word about the lunches, we are grateful for your support. Thanks to all the staff that made the lunch parcels whilst doing their daily duties in busy practices. At the end of the week, we were able to donate any leftover items to local foodbanks – so nothing has gone to waste.
“We received some lovely messages from the children and their parents thanking us for their food, which meant so much to us. It has made us think about the future and how we can continue to support. For us this is not over and we are already planning what we can do next.”
As the plans for the next part of this project develop, we will let you know.