SCHOOLS AND NATIONAL PARK RANGERS THINK INSIDE THE BOX TO FEED FAMILIES

Remote households in the wilds of Exmoor are getting vital food supplies delivered to their door during the coronavirus emergency thanks to some innovative teamwork.

The Moorland Federation of Schools is working with Exmoor National Park Authority to help those families who live miles from any supermarket – with teachers joining forces with National Park Rangers to make it happen.

Staff from the federation’s schools – Exford, Cutcombe, Dunster, St Dubricius and Timberscombe – are making up and delivering food boxes to families containing essentials such as soup, bread, potatoes, beans, pasta, cheese, milk, eggs and tinned food, and thanks to the Rangers they’re getting the deliveries to the most remote households.

The pilot food box scheme, aimed at helping schoolchildren eligible for free school meals, is set to be rolled out across Somerset soon.

Somerset County Council will be offering a food box scheme to its schools as an alternative to the e-voucher because for some families getting to shops is not easy especially in rural areas.

The Federation is providing school places for key workers and vulnerable children at its Dunster site, which also has its own kitchen.

Staff there have been making up the vital food boxes.

Dunster School Head Teacher Naomi Philp said it was a “privilege” to help, adding: “Schools are the heart of communities, we have to do all we can, we have to be innovative, creative and determined to find solutions.

“When you see how pleased people are to receive something, or you make the provision hours fit for an NHS worker, or you hear the relief when you simply say ‘yep, we can help with that’, it makes it all worthwhile.

“I have truly incredible teams who rise to the challenge, without them we couldn’t make it work.  A huge thank you to our staff and to our additional team members, our coaches from Number1West Somerset and to James Howarth from Kilve Court.”

Charlotte Wray, Exmoor National Park Ranger, said: “The work of the Ranger team has inescapably shifted away from the usual day job and we are doing what we can to help out in the community.

“The National Park Authority has offered support to local agencies and when Dunster School approached us about helping deliver free school meals to children, we were happy to help. As the crisis deepens support like this will be even more vital to ensure the needs of vulnerable residents and those in self-isolation are met.

“Many local groups are emerging to help co-ordinate efforts and it’s great to see everyone pulling together to support each other.”

Meanwhile Naomi’s colleague, Head Teacher Chris Blazey from St Dubricious school, drove 140 miles to collect food from a food charity to be distributed across West Somerset.

The local youth club Minehead Eye, has been repurposed as a sorting station and local charities including Home start, and Citizens Advice working with the food bank and Village Agents are ensuring the food reaches those that need it most.

For more information on schools, education and services and support across Somerset during the current coronavirus emergency visit here www.somerset.gov.uk/coronavirus/