Starbeck café offers free packed lunches
Last updated Feb 9, 2024
Cat (left) from KD Fruiterers and Sarah from The Living room Starbeck

A Harrogate café is offering free packed lunches in February half term.

The Living Room, a volunteer-run café in the Starbeck area, is running the packed lunch project. Every half term, on Thursdays, they provide a free packed lunch for anyone in need.

This time it will be held on Thursday, February 15 between 10.30am and 12.30pm. It will run alongside their foodbank so that people in need of extra food can also attend.

The Living Room has run the lunch project five times and served over 50 lunches last time. The group makes between 50-100 packed lunches and has added a hot meal option.

It hopes more people will attend this time because of the rising need due to the rising cost of living crisis. Organiser Sarah Khanye said “the first half term after Christmas is always a little tight”.

Packed lunches at The Living Room’s event last year

The café has tried to tackle the cost of living crisis previously, as reported by the Stray Ferret and the idea of free packed lunches began after the 2020 covid lockdown.

During the pandemic, families were given vouchers in a scheme by the Department of Education to help children eligible for free school meals access meals while they couldn’t attend school.

After lockdown the vouchers were unavailable. Sarah said:

“Sometimes for children having free school meals, that is their main meal of the day and when schools close they still need to eat. We want parents struggling in half term to have one stress free meal.”

She added that they usually see families attending but they are “happy to serve everyone”.

Each packed lunch only costs The Living Room around £1.25 to make and it is supported by KD Fruiterers, which provide the fruit and veg for the project. Sarah said “we can not thank them enough”.

The cold lunch option typically contains a sandwich, crisps, yogurt, fruit, veg sticks, and a biscuit as well as a smoothie or juice box. The hot meal includes a bag of pasta and a sauce, uncooked so people can take it home and save it until it is needed.

Sarah said the foodbank has been busier recently and she urges anyone who needs a lunch to come along.

She said:

“There is no shame in it, just come and get one. We have enough for everyone so no one will miss out, we just want everyone to have a free less stressful meal.

“People think they are depriving other people more in need. It is important to feed everyone, not just those brave enough to ask for help. We would rather people thrive than survive.”

There is a sign up sheet available, so that the organisers know how many people are expected and how many lunches to make. Even if you don’t sign up you can still attend.

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