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Rainham tutor provides free meals for her community

Almost 20,000 food vouchers were given out across Kent in the last month, according to Kent County Council, revealing the extent to which low-income families are struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic. 

Parliament voted against the central government funding an extension to the free school meals scheme in October, leaving the responsibility for ensuring children didn’t go hungry with local authorities. 

Kent County Council then introduced their food vouchers scheme during the October half-term to help families dependent on free school meals to keep their children fed.

Cllr Mike Whiting, representing Swale West, said: “no child should ever go hungry, and while  the voucher scheme has now closed, the “Kent Together” helpline remains open for anyone who is struggling during the pandemic.” 

Many businesses around Kent offered to provide free food to those in need, but some residents went even further.

Jessica Farley, owner of Mrs Farley’s Tuition in Rainham, took it upon herself to directly provide for families struggling to put food on the table in her community.

Jessica Farley is a private tutor in Rainham. Credit: Facebook

She said: “I have always been very fortunate to have enough food for myself and my family.”

Sadly, this is not always the case, and the amount of families unable to consistently provide food for themselves has skyrocketed in recent months. 

Mrs Farley made bulk meals and advertised on Facebook to reach out to those most in need. 

“I used to work in a local primary school and I’ve seen families struggling. Many times I had to help a child who hadn’t eaten any breakfast, I used to have a tray of goodies in my classroom in case someone was ever hungry.”

She added: “Before children are ready to learn, they have to have their basic needs met.” 

Mrs Farley funded the meals through her own wages, and used her oven and multiple slow cookers to prepare as much food as she could. She used to batch cook during half terms for her own family, and simply multiplied the ingredients for increased portions. 

Food on the go at Mrs Farley’s. Credit: Facebook

Mrs Farley delivered this food to many local families over half-term, and has plans to continue cooking for as long as people need her help. 

“I hope that when the word gets out that I’m happy to deliver and will keep everyone’s names confidential, more people will come forward.”

“I worry that some people don’t want to be seen asking for help.”

At a time when food banks have seen an increase of 200%, more and more families are battling poverty in Britain, yet the stigma associated with having economic difficulties is as apparent as ever. 

Mrs Farley mentioned her fears for those already going hungry in her area, saying: “if we go into another strict lockdown, certain families will struggle even more.”


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