Chronicle & Echo readers have helped to pay for a chef to feed 40 hungry mouths at a Northampton nursery, as part of goodwill pledges towards our Fair Deal for Kids Campaign back in 2015.
Now, in partnership with the Northamptonshire Community Foundation (NCF), we have launched this campaign all over again. But we can't feed hungry children living in food poverty alone.
The NCF - who dish out grants to improve the lives of the county’s most disadvantaged people - have been lobbying for change after the grant providers published a new Hidden Needs report last month, which reveals 8,400 children go hungry in Northampton every year.
Following our efforts, three years ago, the Chron and NCF helped to raise £11,559 to support five charitable projects working with children and young people to tackle poverty in Northampton.
One of those projects we helped to fund was Blackthorn Good Neighbours Nursery who received £4,979 to help fund a cook for one year.
Chief executive of Growing Together Northampton Kathryn White said the money has helped in more ways than one.
"When we first started here people brought their own packed lunches and we tried to get children to sit round a table and it was completely chaotic because, the only way to describe it, children were not used to sitting down and sharing their food together.
"Then we started to introduce healthy snacks here and we realised children weren’t really used to eating these sorts of foods - so we came up with this bright idea that we cook a hot meal once a week for them."
In a joint effort, for one year, Kathryn, and nursery manager Hayley cooked the children a hot meal once a week and it was at that point they applied for funding from the NCF.
Through NCF they received a grant to employ a cook to serve up tasty hot lunch-time meals to 40 children, three days a week, instead of one.
She said by the Easter half-term the children could all sit at the table politely. "They just hadn’t got that sort of structure and [now] they all clear their own plates," she said.
"They sound little things but it’s all about building up ‘this is how you behave in a situation’ so it has an impact on the rest of their lives as well.
The children are cooked balanced meals Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with fresh vegetables and menus are supplied to parents to inform them how the food is prepared.
Kathryn added: "We try and do quite a lot of variety, so whilst we know that some children are hungry and it’s important that we try and get some food down them - we also want them to have things that they might not normally have at home, so there's more of a bit of a balance.
"We’ve had a few children, who have told us that because they have gone home and talked about the meal, the parents have gone out and bought a table and now they sit around the table."
The relaunched Fair Deal for Kids fund will be a ring-fenced pot of money for community groups and volunteer organisations within Northamptonshire that work to tackle poverty.
Every small donation will make a real difference. To donate go to: www.justgiving.com/ncfoundation