Plans for no Hertsmere schoolchild to go hungry this Christmas

PUBLISHED: 14:50 02 November 2020 | UPDATED: 16:46 03 November 2020

Cllr Bright visits the new state-of-the-art kitchens. Picture: Hertsmere Borough Council

Cllr Bright visits the new state-of-the-art kitchens. Picture: Hertsmere Borough Council

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Plans to ensure that every child in Hertsmere who needs a hot meal during the Christmas school holidays will be able to get one for free have been brought forward to the council.

Cllr Bright, pictured right, with Ramesh Sachdev. Picture: Hertsmere Borough CouncilCllr Bright, pictured right, with Ramesh Sachdev. Picture: Hertsmere Borough Council

A report laying out details of this new initiative and requesting funds from the council for the transportation and delivery of the free hot meals is to be considered by Hertsmere Borough Council’s Executive on November 11.

The hot food, with a different menu every day, will be cooked fresh daily at the new state-of-the-art kitchens of the charitable GMSP Foundation and Akshaya Patra.

The zero waste and self-sustaining kitchen model was originally created by Akshaya Patra in India, providing nutritious lunches from 52 kitchens to more than 1.8 million children in over 19,000 state-run schools every school day.

It has now been recreated in Watford, Hertfordshire, providing a much-needed solution to the recommendations on tackling childhood hunger set out in the National Food Strategy. The foundation is already working with a number of local authorities in England on similar projects.

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There are almost 1,800 Hertsmere children who are eligible for free school meals during term time across the borough and this project will ensure all those youngsters can access hot food delivered to their area when school isn’t sitting after term ends in December.

Hertsmere Borough Council will organise the collection of the meals and ensure their delivery to set locations across the borough for parents and carers to receive and collect.

Leader of Hertsmere Borough Council, Cllr Morris Bright MBE said: “While the debate around free school meals for children outside of term time continues, here in Hertsmere we are seeking to act quickly to ensure that planning and preparations get under way now so that our children in need and their families do not have to worry about getting a hot meal during the Christmas holidays.

“I am extremely grateful to the GMSP foundation and Akshaya Patra for their very generous offers of support in looking after Hertsmere’s children. Together we really can make a difference this Christmas.”

Ramesh Sachdev, co-founder of the GMSP Foundation, said: “I have lived with my family in Hertsmere for more than 40 years. This country and this borough have afforded me many opportunities. I am honoured to have been able to help fund supported food programmes. I also want to give back to the area that has given so much to me and my family. Food poverty is a real problem and I am pleased to be able to team up with Hertsmere Borough Council to address some of the local issues especially for those children who, through no fault of their own, find themselves disadvantaged.”

A report laying out plans and requesting funds from the council for the transportation and delivery of these free meals for the schoolchildren who need them will come to the Hertsmere Executive on 11 November.

The Executive meeting at which this initiative will be discussed will be webcast live.


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