CREATED just a month ago, the Woodley Lunch Bunch has started helping families today.
The organisation was set up by Juliet Sherratt, who volunteered last summer with The Grub Club — a Norreys-based group that supports families who normally access free school meals over the holidays.
Much like The Grub Club, the Woodley Lunch Bunch will provide free meals to families struggling during the summer holidays.
Ms Sherratt told Wokingham.Today: “It all started when I heard that the Government wasn’t going to give out the £15 lunch vouchers this summer for children who have free school meals.
“They’ve since done a U-turn, but there’s still a need there, what with the impact Covid-19 has had on people’s finances.
“I helped at The Grub Club last year and thought it was brilliant. I looked for a Woodley one, but couldn’t find anything. So that’s why I decided to set it up, there are children in as much need here. It was a culmination of things really, but I just had it in my mind that Woodley needed something like this.”
In less than a month, the organisation has gone from an idea, to an established group ready to start helping the community.
“It’s been a bit frantic,” said Ms Sherratt. “I didn’t quite think about how much organisation it would take. I thought I could just make sandwiches from my kitchen.
“But we’ve had lots of Zoom meetings with councillors, family support workers, foodbanks, churches and schools.
“They were all very keen to get involved, and will be able to refer families to the Lunch Bunch.”
The organisation will receive food donations from Waitrose Woodley branch, and has been given £500 from the Tesco Bags of Help Covid-19 Communities Fund.
The Lunch Bunch will also collaborate with Freely Fruity, a Lower Earley charity focussed on feeding local communities with fresh fruit and vegetables, and the Woodley WI will also be baking cakes for the lunch parcels.
And they will soon receive £1,500 from Wokingham United Charities, which will act as a financial buffer in case food donations decrease and the volunteer team need to buy more supplies.
“We’re also planning on sending out activity packs each week,” said Ms Sherratt. “There will be puzzle books and crafting things for the children to keep busy during the holidays.”
The Woodley Lunch Bunch now has Ms Sherratt as chair, Cllr Andy Croy as treasurer and Cllr Shirley Boyt as volunteer coordinator.
Ms Sherratt added: “We’ve already had lots of offers of help from volunteers, and quite a few referrals are coming through.”
Woodley Lunch Bunch is looking for temporary premises to coordinate and prepare healthy lunches.