Two markets in Lancashire have joined forces to support struggling families with children eligible for free school meals. Blackburn Market and Darwen Market have been at the forefront of the initiative which has seen hundreds of vouchers issued to local families to buy high quality fresh foods direct from the markets.
The vouchers were issued by Blackburn with Darwen Council to families with children eligible for free school meals. It means that families can make healthy choices from a vast array of locally sourced vegetables, bakery, meat, fish and dried goods and at the same time support the small businesses that are a vital source of essential supplies to the local community.
Scott Stewart, who runs the Fruit & Veg stall on Blackburn Market said:
“It’s been great to support this scheme and see people discovering the wide range of fresh food available in the market at the same time. Seeing families leaving with fabulous fresh produce to help get them through the time when school meals would normally be available is really satisfying. We’ve been really proud to be part of it.”
The vouchers can be used for food at any of the fresh food stalls including fruit & veg, butchers, fishmongers, bakeries, delicatessens and grocery stalls. With vegetables picked the same day, meat sourced from local farmers and fish direct from the docks, this solution is supporting children in a sustainable and healthy way. The participating traders have been advising parents on healthy meal ideas, recommending a range and variety of choices and giving tips on how to make the vouchers go further with money saving ideas. This personal service, quality produce and value for money has won many parents over and keeping the spend in the local economy has helped local businesses in challenging times for the high street.
Marcus Rashford, the Manchester United player and food poverty campaigner recently recognised the partnership on Twitter:
“Love that Blackburn and Darwen has mobilised local business into their hunger-related schemes. Well done.”
Phil Riley, Executive Member for Growth and Development at Blackburn with Darwen Council said:
“Supporting children and local businesses at the same time is a great solution to the challenges that are facing families during the latest round of restrictions. Rather than pre-packed boxed food, families are able to choose high quality produce and make a vital contribution to small businesses and the local economy at the same time. “This type of community support is the essence of what we are aiming to achieve in Blackburn and Darwen.”
The £15 example selection from Blackburn Market included: Fresh salmon, Locally sourced pork steak, beef mince, sausage & burger along with broccoli, carrots, potatoes, tangerines, apples and brunch bars.
Pictured: Scott Stewart from his fruit and veg stall on Blackburn Market taking part in the scheme.