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Newcastle United and Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundations delivering meals to deprived children thanks to generous donation

Hundreds of packed lunches are being specially prepared and delivered to disadvantaged schoolchildren across the North East thanks to funding for Newcastle United Foundation via Sodexo’s global Stop Hunger Endowment Fund to end summer holiday hunger.

The organisations are teaming up throughout August to ensure healthy and nutritious lunches are provided to children who may go without regular, balanced meals during the school holidays.

In the UK, up to 3 million youngsters are at risk of going hungry without access to free school meals in the summer break, according to FareShare – the UK’s longest running food redistribution charity.

Since March, Newcastle United Foundation staff have been redeployed to deliver food parcels regularly to disadvantaged families who are among the hardest hit by financial loss during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, with the support of volunteers from Sodexo and its Stop Hunger Foundation as well as generous grant funding from the Stop Hunger Endowment Fund, the two charities hope to reach hundreds more children from Berwick to Gateshead to keep them well-fed this summer.

From late July to early September, the charities will distribute packed lunches weekly from Byker Primary School and St John’s Primary School in Newcastle, Berwick Academy in Northumberland and Gateshead Redheugh.

Each packed lunch is being made up by the team at Pottery Bank Community Centre, in Walker, who also operate the Community Catering service, with support from Brakes’ Meals & More Foundation.

Lee Smith, Newcastle United Foundation Community Manager, said: “Every day, our staff come into contact with schoolchildren, young people and families who live in areas of high social deprivation and who are really struggling at the moment.

“It makes our work that much more important when it means we can be the difference between a child eating that day or not – that is why our partnership with Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation is so vital and this donation is so incredible.

“Our teams will be working together to ensure these meals get to the children who need them this summer and we know we will be able to reach so many more young people thanks to the support of Sodexo, the Stop Hunger Endowment Fund and the Community Catering team.”

Sodexo volunteers will also help Newcastle United Foundation staff oversee the running of its Kicks programme in Tyneside – offering free organised football sessions for up to 1,300 children.

The Foundations agreed a partnership earlier this year to pilot programmes dedicated to making a difference in the community, focusing on education, health and social inclusion, sports participation and youth inclusion.

Event, food and hospitality specialists Sodexo – which operates services and events at St. James’ Park – created the Stop Hunger initiative in 1996 to support charities working to tackle hunger and malnutrition.

Gareth John, Chair, Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation, said: “Like many charities, the Foundation has been impacted this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our employees’ fundraising efforts have been curtailed, and our biggest annual fundraiser, the Foundation Dinner, had to be cancelled in March this year.

“Nevertheless, our teams rallied as the lockdown set in, donating surplus food to national charities Fareshare, the Trussell Trust and other local foodbanks from local sites which had to close. Our employees have continued to volunteer and raise funds where they can, whether through virtual quizzes or other activities.”

“This donation is a huge boost to the Foundation in the UK, and we are delighted that it is being used to help these charities in their important work to tackle hunger in our communities.”

For more information on Community Catering or the Pottery Bank Community Centre, visit their Facebook page, and for more information on Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation, visit their website.

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