It was such a simple idea really…..

It was a hot, very hot, afternoon at the end of June and I was in an airy Quaker meeting house in Reading, listening to the amazing accounts of how different groups, like food banks, the Trussell Trust and Sustain (the right to Food Project) try to ensure that people in communities don’t go hungry.

It grew even hotter; councillor Kemi Akinola from Wandsworth Council took her turn to speak- describing her Community Canteens which provide healthy hot meals for the community using surplus food from local supermarkets.  It would be hard to make it work in Cranleigh I thought, and besides, I’m not known for my culinary expertise!

Then she mentioned a school holiday initiative she had tried and it clicked with me straight away; this could really work in Cranleigh.  Kemi had found a premises to hold her event and a source of minimal funding and the rest was up to the community themselves.

And so it is that for each Tuesday in August – Build your own sandwich lunch – came to Cranleigh.  Freely open to anyone with children at home in the school holidays, funded through my role as a Co-op Member Pioneer and kindly hosted in the superb new kitchen of Cranleigh Methodist Church.

Parents and children can choose from the menu – bread of a variety of kinds, varied nutritious and tasty sandwich fillings, plus some child friendly vegetables, yogurt and fruit. The food is laid out in the kitchen and the parent prepares a meal the children will enjoy. Somehow it works out!

For the first event we had 7 mothers with a couple of children each and it was a joyous and lively affair; the mums chatted, the children ate and then played and a good time was had by all.  The next week saw some children making their own meal – a wrap of celery, jam and cheese, gobbled down hungrily was one little boy’s idea of delicious.

The star helper was Aunty Margaret – Pinny on, buttering knife to the ready, Margaret kept order in the kitchen and even made the mothers a snack too. Thanks to her everything ran like clockwork.

Lynda MacDermott

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