Yorkshire Cricket and Morrisons deliver 12,000 meals to stop children going hungry during summer holidays
The Yorkshire Cricket Foundation joined forces with Morrisons this summer to run Crick-EAT – an initiative which used the power of sport to provide nutritious meals to children and families from disadvantaged backgrounds across West Yorkshire.
The vital scheme - which has also provided 1,000 hours of cricket fun to help improve the wellbeing and health of some of the region’s most disadvantaged families – finishes on Friday Sep 3 after great success.
With many children coming from low-income households across the region, holiday hunger is a major issue for families who may not have access to free school meals throughout the summer months.
However, across West Yorkshire 12 community hubs have been providing thousands of children a free nutritious lunch for six weeks as part of the Crick-Eat partnership as well as hours of engaging and fun cricket coaching from professionally trained coaches.
Famous faces including Bradford-born Adil Rashid, a Yorkshire Cricket Club player and England cricketer, and Leeds mayor Councillor Asghar Khan, witnessed the meals in full swing and helped during visits to community hubs.
Cllr Khan, who arrived in Leeds from India when he was an 11-year-old boy, visited one of the busiest hubs this summer – the Bilal Sports Centre, in Harehills, this week.
Having spent his early years living in the Mirpur district of Kashmir, Cllr Khan moved to Beeston in 1980 when he was 11 to join his father, who had found work in an Armley foundry.
He attended Cross Flats Park Primary School and Cockburn High School, before embarking on a career as a postman, which has lasted 30 years.
Cllr Khan, who took part in batting practice and helped hand out meals to young people during his visit, said the hub at the Harehills based sports centre - which has more than 300 young people registered for receiving the meals and coaching each day - had been “vital” for local families in the community.
He said: “It has been a difficult period over the last 18 months, especially in the inner-city areas – where the poverty and deprivation is high.
“Providing that extra support through food and coaching –has greatly helped families.
“To come personally and see the young people enjoying themselves, making friends and learning new skills, and building their confidence has been inspiring.
“A massive thank you to the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation and Morrisons for providing this vital help to young people.”
Kamran Khan, 37, a cricket coach who is helping run the programme at the Bilal Sports Centre, said it had been really important that they have been able to deliver "a fantastic community project" in a deprived area.
He added: “A lot of the parents here would struggle through the summer, there are children who rely on lunch time meals from school and outside of term, during the six-week period, it’s a long time for some children to go without a meal.
“Being able to provide that for the children, it’s vital for their health and wellbeing.
“Seeing the young people smiling and happy and going from here and seeing they’ve had a great time puts a smile on our faces.”
To mark the final week of the inspiring programme Bradford East’s MP Imran Hussain also visited a community hub in his local constituency – the Karmand Community Centre, Barkerend Rd, Bradford.
While previously Leeds North West Labour MP Alex Sobel, saw the project first hand at Brudenell Primary School in Leeds, with the MP taking part in a game of cricket with a group of youngsters.
For the future Mr Sobel stressed the need to expand the Crick-EAT programme across the region during school holidays.
He said: “We’ve had this whole year where people like Marcus Rashford have been campaigning on the issue of holiday hunger and it’s great that we’ve got this programme which is tackling a number of different things, including nutrition, health and wellbeing.
“But there are lots of children who unfortunately won’t be able to access programmes like this – so we need a much bigger programme across a lot of different areas to make sure no child goes hungry.”
Community hub venues also included Hovingham Primary School, and Brudenell Primary School, in Harehills.
Elland Cricket Club, in Calderdale, Liversedge Cricket Club in Kirklees and King James Fernside, in Huddersfield, and Keighley Cricket Club are also hubs.
While in Bradford, Park Avenue, the Sutton Community Centre, the Rockwell Centre and the Beap Community Partnership are chosen venues.
Morrisons community 'champions' have been working with their local venue to deliver the packed lunches including snacks and refreshments.
As well as supplying lunches Morrisons has teamed up with Colgate Palmolive to provide 10,000 toothbrushes and 10,000 tooth pastes to support dental hygiene among children.
Rebecca Singleton, the community director at Morrisons, said: "No child should ever go hungry and so we’re proud to be supporting Crick-EAT and the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation in this important partnership, bringing children together for a summer of good food, cricket and fun!"
The initiative was expanded to the venues this summer following a successful pilot earlier this year.
Beth Cook, the Health and Wellbeing Manager for the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation, said: “As a foundation, we are committed to supporting those who most need it in Yorkshire’s communities.
“Our summer delivery has been a huge success, with many children who were at risk of going hungry during the holidays now fed and watered, with two hours of physical activity daily also!”
“With the average family just one month away from needing financial support, programmes like Crick-EAT are vital to supporting a community’s physical and financial health.
“Food poverty will not end at the end of this summer, so it is essential we are able to continue the delivery of Crick-EAT to continue supporting those who need it most.”