Wolves Foundation’s Feed Our Pack project is again stepping up during the Easter holidays to deliver more than 6,500 meals to local children as well as providing activities for vulnerable young people across four different venues.
Feed Our Pack was launched in January with the aim of reducing the impact of food poverty on the people of Wolverhampton thanks to initial funding from the Premier League & PFA Community Fund and a generous donation from Wolves head coach, Nuno Espirito Santo.
Fans have also provided fantastic support with their own fundraising, helping to ensure Feed Our Pack will continue to develop and provide food for more and more people who are struggling in the local community as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Food parcels are being delivered in greater numbers than during the February half term, and the Foundation are also being funded by partners the City of Wolverhampton Council to deliver the holiday activities and food programme (HAF) during the first week of the holidays.
“Research has found that school holidays can put families under pressure due to increased costs and low incomes, and that some children can suffer ‘unhealthy’ holidays in terms of nutrition and physical health,” says Tom Warren, senior manager (projects) with Wolves Foundation.
“The purpose of the HAF programme is to offer vulnerable children some enriching activities over the Easter, summer and Christmas holidays, along with a free and healthy meal.
“It is a nationwide programme, and we are delighted to be carrying it out at three local schools and our own Foundation Arena on behalf of our partners at the City of Wolverhampton Council.
“The activities are being run similar to our Soccer Schools, only with multi-sport activity and learning around nutrition, as well as serving up a free meal as part of our Feed Our Pack project to all the young people attending.
“We will also be distributing more of the 7,000 activity books – made up of 100 pages - that were first designed and distributed before Christmas.
“The holiday activities are similar to what we are committed to delivering with Feed Our Pack and we are planning to carry out those during other holiday periods when HAF isn’t running, but both projects have the potential to support an even greater number of young people moving forward as Covid restrictions continue to ease.”
Along with the activity programme comes the distribution of food parcels, being overseen by the Foundation’s recently appointed food poverty project manager, Ollie Locker.
Ollie arrives at the Foundation after spending many years working for the Telford Crisis Support charity, the last four as operations manager, which operates a Foodbank providing emergency food, toiletries and clothing to those most in need across Telford and Wrekin.
“It was whilst I was working for the Citizens Advice Bureau in Telford offering advice and support to people that the food bank started up, opening for one hour a day and helping to feed approximately 100 people,” says Ollie.
“As the demand grew, opening increased to two hours a day, then three, and eventually it became effectively full time.
“My time was being split between the Citizens Advice Bureau and the foodbank, which eventually grew into a charity called Telford Crisis Support where I took over the operations.
“It was all about providing a holistic approach to make sure people had the food that they needed and support in other areas, as well as running other initiatives such as surplus food projects and receiving donations from people in the community.
“I really enjoyed my time there with a charity that does such important work, but when I saw this role advertised with the Foundation, it looked like a really exciting challenge.
“It just felt like a good fit, giving me the opportunity to use the skills and experiences already picked up working for a Food Bank but also working within a new environment and new people to try and make a difference.”
Across the weekends of the Easter holidays deliveries are being made to 278 children aged between five and 16 identified by the Foundation’s partner schools to give them two meals a day for six days, comprising over 6,500 meals in total.
And, as Ollie explains, the Foundation are hugely grateful to the support of Midlands Truck and Van Limited, the approved Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle dealership with branches across the West Midlands whose Wolverhampton branch loaned the vehicles thanks to sales manager Adrian Sewell.
“As a business we are a front-line service and have been working throughout the pandemic ensuring the emergency service vehicles are kept mobile in addition to ensuring delivery and supermarket vehicles are maintained efficiently,” says Adrian.
“These have been very difficult times and its pleasing that we can give something back to the local community via the Wolves Foundation.
“We felt it was important that we delivered the food the most environmentally friendly way as possible and the eVito van does that.”
“We have our own staff delivering the food parcels but are hugely grateful for a new partnership with Midlands Truck and Van Limited who have provided us with vehicles to help with the deliveries,” says Ollie.
“The loan of these vehicles will have a really positive impact on how we are able to operate and we would like to thank them for such generous support.
“We are delivering food to every postcode area in Wolverhampton and, as we move forward and receive more referrals, there is scope to increase the numbers of parcels in the future.”
Kim Morgan, marketing manager at Midlands Truck & Van, added: “Midlands Truck & Van were honoured to be able to support a worthy charity with the loan of five vans.
“We feel the 'Feed Our Pack' project is doing a fantastic job in not only supplying the foods needed to help families within the Wolverhampton area but also raising awareness of the help that is urgently required during difficult times.
“Thank you for letting us be a part of Feed Our Pack and enabling us to help give back to the community.”
Another key area for Feed Our Pack is to work with selected local foodbanks and provide additional support where needed which is also on Ollie’s agenda as he quickly settles into his new role.
“I am really looking forward to working with other organisations and seeing how Feed Our Pack can help them,” he explains.
“I have already contacted many of the local foodbanks asking them what they require and how many extra meals they might need to meet any increased demand.
“It is about increasing that distribution across Wolverhampton and understanding where the needs are.
“With my experience I know how foodbanks function and what is involved in the day-to-day processes but they are all of different sizes and can work in different ways.
“In a roundabout way, we are all trying to meet the same objective, so building up positive partnerships with local foodbanks will be key to the success of Feed Our Pack.”
Can you support Feed Our Pack with a donation? Click here to see ways you can make a financial contribution of any value.