Since winning The 18th NMT Community Nursery of the Year we have been contacted by several nurseries with regards to our family Food Bank and how we set it up, so we thought we would share our story with you.
More than two years ago we were supporting a local Food Bank. Many of our parents would donate on a regular basis and each week we would order extra items in our nursery shopping. We soon realised that lots of our nursery parents were struggling just as much. Our Media City Nursery Manager and Area Manager, Gemma Fletcher attended a home visit to one of our young, struggling parents who had a baby and a toddler. It was evident we needed to do more to support her; not only with food items but also household goods too. Gemma quickly managed to provide the necessary pieces and offered additional childcare support for the baby to attend the same sessions as her toddler, FREE of charge. Recognising that the parent needed further support she directed her to the local College where we have a long-term connection as we support many EAL parents attending ESOL training. This resulted in the parent being able to continue her education around the childcare sessions. It was then that we decided to form our own Kidzrus Food Bank.
We are delighted to confirm that regular food parcels are collected very discreetly as we have a separate Facebook page and requests are made via the Messenger service, to nursery parents and mainly to the wider community and this has proven to be a great success. We have a rear entrance (not in the nursery) and food parcels are collected at the donors’ leisure. Two years on and we are now an integral part of our local community in Salford. Since the first lockdown we have experienced a significant increase in requests for regular food parcels; many of which we delivered throughout the nursery closures on a daily basis.
Initially we contacted local supermarkets for support as the demand was growing. We are very fortunate to have established a great relationship with our local Morrison’s Store and their Community Champion – she even attended our recent visit to our friends at Pendleton Court Care Home. Gemma arranged for our Pre School children to do a Christmas sing a long in the gardens and the residents joined us from the comfort of their lovely lounge.
In addition we have linked with our local Costa Coffee who ask customers to make food donations in return for a FREE coffee. More recently we receive food crates from our local Marks and Spencer store as the Food Bank’s popularity has hugely increased. As we have quite a significant presence on many social media sites, a local resident made contact and kindly collected food donations from her neighbourhood delivering the donations to our Food Bank for us to distribute.
For those settings considering starting a Food Bank, we suggest you communicate with as many local stores/businesses for additional support; but for now start it very small with a few items and perhaps some fund raising. It’s a very difficult time for everyone and many families who you wouldn’t expect will come forward (including staff too as we’re all in the same boat!) but it’s extremely rewarding to know along with the help of your team, you’re making a difference.
We have worked tirelessly to develop the Food Bank and many requests are out of nursery hours with some weekend and evening deliveries so be prepared as it could expand much more than you expected but so worthwhile.
We have developed the Food Bank so much that our fund raising efforts included sales of our own cookbook and raffles etc. We made fabulous Christmas Eve boxes as raffle prizes to enable us with sums raised helping us to provide Christmas Hampers to the families we have previously delivered food parcels to. Gemma also formed a Go Fund Me page which raised a large amount during one weekend, this also contributed to the Christmas Hampers. We opened the setting on the Saturday morning before Christmas for collections and this was also very much appreciated. We distributed more than 500+ age appropriate Christmas presents and in excess of 100 food hampers; most including fresh fruit and vegetables with lots of Christmas treats too.
We involve our nursery children with the Food Bank as they regularly help to make the food parcels and they understand how important it is as responsible citizens to help others.
Although we are a small group of nurseries in a deprived area, we are very personable and we pride ourselves on equality and diversity forming close links with our parents and the wider community. We have received some amazing feedback that has inspired others to come forward.
In terms of our own nursery parents we have the added advantage of the Famly App, which means we can acknowledge and respond to nursery parents immediately and this has proved to be a great communication tool.
We continue to support our community and we have now launched Kidzrus neighbourhood nomination whereby people can nominate an elderly neighbour to receive a lovely afternoon tea courtesy of Kidzrus.
We received a prize from Nursery World in support of #StandUpForEarlyYearsCampaign and we have features in the NMT, NDNA publications for efforts towards our community.
We are overwhelmed with the continued support and growth of Kidzrus Food Bank and would strongly recommend that you try to establish local links to help your own community… together we can make a difference!
The impact the Food Bank has made is invaluable and we continue to grow from strength to strength; even more so in these very unprecedented times. We have recently become a CIC (Community Interest Company) due to the expansion of the Food Bank and we are fortunate to have the help of several volunteers.