Food for Families: A lifeline for Calderdale's struggling families

Food for Families with head of Bowling Green AcademyFood for Families with head of Bowling Green Academy
Food for Families with head of Bowling Green Academy
​​Food for Families is to put it simply local Calderdale heroes and to those they support – a lifeline.

Jordan Baker, VSI Alliance, writes: Established at the start of 2023 by Lesley Maslen, Food for Families provides families and single parents struggling with the rising price of food in the Lower Valley with a nutritional home-cooked meal once a week and a well-packed food parcel to support them through the week.

For one day a week, families don’t have to worry about their finances to eat or whether they can afford to switch the oven on because Lesley and the team have their back.

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VAC and VSI Alliance Community Journalist Jordan, volunteered with the group in April to help prepare a delicious meal and pack food parcels which were then delivered to primary schools in Elland, Greetland, West Vale and Stainland.

The day was filled with conversation about the cost-of-living crisis and how this affects working-class families, on the day we supported a total of 35 families consisting of 52 adults and 94 children.

Although the inflation rate on food is improving – prices remain high.

Families are generating income, however, the impact of rising interest rates, energy costs and food prices over the past few years has left many with the hard decision to heat or eat.

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Lesley, Jeanette and the team of 20 volunteers are conscious of this and realise the reality some face.

For those who are truly in the grips of the cost of living crisis, one meal a week can and does make a world of difference.

The food parcels are packed with kitchen essentials – items such as bread, cereals, fruit and vegetables are given to take off the pressure during the rest of the week.

Food for Families prides itself on being ‘Zero Heroes’, mainly using surplus food from supermarkets, bakeries and food retail outlets to prevent wasting good food that could end up in landfill sites.

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There may be a best-before date on some food but the majority of this food is still safe for consumption after this date. It is estimated that 6.4 million tonnes (67 per cent) of wasted food could have been eaten .

One of the leading causes of surplus food in the UK is overproduction, meaning manufacturers often overestimate the amount of food needed, leading to this being unsold.

The group feeds around 200 people each week across their weekly hot meals, lunch club, food parcels and dedicated table at Project Colt in Elland, where food items are available for those in need.

Food for Families will soon be making the move to Project Colt to help cope with their increasing demand where the team will be hosting cooking classes in their brand-new community kitchen for members of the public, and also a new space to prepare and cook their weekly meals.

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For more information on Food for Families please visit:

From June 3-9, we mark the 40th anniversary of Volunteers’ Week, a special time to express our gratitude to organisations like Food for Families and other volunteer-led groups. Follow VSI Alliance on social media to see how we are celebrating!

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