Providing a healthy foundation at the Priory Children’s Centre

The Priory Children’s Centre has been helping vulnerable children and families in Hull since it opened in 2008. The centre provides a variety of support services for families, from adult education to midwifery support and stop smoking clinics. Since 2011, Priory has been receiving food from FareShare to provide additional support to local families in the area.

We spoke with Louise Stansfield, the children centre’s west locality coordinator, to find out more about the initiatives they have in place and how the food they receive helps those in need.

Providing a good food education

“Many of the people we provide food to struggle with finding good, healthy options to feed their families,” said Louise. “So we love the variety of fresh fruit and vegetables available through FareShare. Many of the families aren’t too confident in the kitchen — they’ll often favour things like the simple pasta and sauce options that we have available. It’s a luxury for those who aren’t so well off to be able to get food like that, which they might not consider when walking round the supermarket. But we like to encourage the exploration of fresh foods too. That’s why we started using some of the produce to do Let’s Get Cooking classes in the centre, to teach them how to take a few simple ingredients and make nutritious meals for the whole family quickly and easily.”

Support over the school holidays

Over the summer, many of the children the centre helps will no longer be getting access to free school meals. This has a big impact on the level of support they require, according to Louise: “Those families who depend on school meals to keep their children well fed can really struggle over the school holidays. We count on the food from FareShare to make sure that families are still getting food over the summer.” 

As Louise explains, food provided by FareShare helps them provide more options and support to families over the summer: “We do packed lunches with nearly all sessions in the centre, all of which are designed to be healthy. We do ‘cooking on a budget’, but instead of doing it in the centre, we give out food packs with all the recipes and instructions. Each week, the healthy lifestyles team organises 15 to 20 bags of food that we can send out to the most vulnerable families. That gives them everything they need to cook a healthy meal for four, and hopefully teaches them how to use simple ingredients to make something nutritious at a low cost.”

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