Don’t let children go to bed hungry - campaign aims to tackle food poverty crisis in St Albans and Harpenden

Carol Hedges is running a food bank in Harpenden.

Carol Hedges is running a food bank in Harpenden. - Credit: Archant

A Harpenden grandmother concerned about families living below the breadline has launched a social media campaign to support hungry children.

Carol Hedges, 67, who looks after her two “gorgeous grandchildren”, aged one and three, in St Albans, said the thought of any child sleeping on an “empty tummy” inspired her to reach out.

The campaign originated online, with posts on social media sites Facebook and Twitter designed to boost support for food banks. Carol said she has targeted both local supermarkets and social groups to encourage donations, to great success.

“I’m creating a buzz on social media about ‘filling a foodbox/feeding a child’. It’s being widely re-tweeted on Twitter and I’ve been tweeting Morrisons, who don’t have collection boxes in many of their stores.

“Locally, I’m posting on St Albans Mums and Harpenden Parents Facebook pages, with great support! After my first Harpenden post, the Waitrose food box, which was pretty empty, was rammed with donations. I’m updating the posts with new ideas or reminders.”

The novelist and green campaigner said government policy and a lack of regard for child welfare was to blame for young families relying on food donations.

“I’d been pretty disgusted by the way the Tory government was proposing to scrap free school lunches and replace them with (cheaper) breakfasts, and I felt their whole attitude to children was terrible. They are our future, but they are being treated as ‘non-economic’ as they don’t create wealth.

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“It is scandalous that, in one of the richest countries, we have MPs able to quaff subsidised Champagne and dine on steak in the House of Commons restaurants, when there are children everywhere going hungry!”

So how can ordinary people lend a hand? Carol has two main solutions.

“Commit to buying ONE food item for the food bank box every week: There is usually a list of requirements. Failing that, a big box of own brand supermarket cereal retails at £1.25.

“Email a local head teacher and ask whether there are ever shortfalls in meal bills. Offer to make an anonymous donation to bridge the shortfall. I have done this. Many of the kids who don’t qualify for free meals have parents on low wages/zero hour contracts.

Follow Carol’s campaign on Twitter at @carolJhedges.