Feed Our Pack making an impact

Feed Our Pack making an impact Image

Whether it’s a foodbank in need of support to pass on to the local community. A family who might be at risk of going hungry. A young person at risk of isolation during the school holidays. 

Or perhaps a funder, such as the Premier League or City of Wolverhampton Council. Or a Wolves supporter bringing items to donate on a matchday or holding a fundraiser. 

Wolves Foundation’s Feed Our Pack project, while borne out of the challenging circumstances of the pandemic and now the cost of living crisis, is an initiative which has brought the community together in providing support to people across the city who need it. 

As the project recently moved into its third year, the numbers of people supported and the amount of food distributed tells its own story in how important Feed Our Pack has been. 

During 2022 alone, Feed Our Pack provided a total of 209,006 meals including 1,600 food parcels, 8,598 holiday activity meals, all making up 74.5 tonnes of food. 

“The biggest challenges currently faced in our community are the rising cost of utility bills and day-to-day essentials,’ is the message from Bilston Resource Project. 

“Fuel and food poverty is having a dramatic effect on our community, and without the support of Feed Our Pack, we would never have been able to deliver our projects.” 

“We are very grateful to the Wolves Foundation and Feed Our Pack for their continuous support for our food bank,” adds the Wolverhampton Muslim Forum. “Without this help and support it would not have been possible for us to keep it running.”  

It was back in January 2021 that Feed Our Pack was launched thanks to £500,000 of funding made up of investment from the Premier League and a personal donation from Wolves’ then head coach Nuno Espirito Santo.  

There are several different strands to the project, but, when it comes to food provision, three main pillars. 

Working with the His Food element of the His Church, a national food re-distribution charity to provide items to local foodbanks, delivering holiday activities for young people to include breakfast and lunch, and providing food parcels for families during the school holidays. 

Ollie Locker is Wolves Foundation’s Food Poverty Project Manager who was appointed to help oversee Feed Our Pack. 

He says: “Working with foodbanks has been a key part of Feed Our Pack, supporting them in having enough food to distribute in the local community and also introducing them to make their own relationships with His Church. 

“We have had really good feedback from the different organisations and the foodbank leads and we have also had the opportunity to host our own foodbank network forum at Molineux.

“This meant we were able to get everyone around a table to discuss not only the issues around local food poverty shared by all partners, but to explore opportunities and to find out how we can work collaboratively to address the issues in each respective ward.

“The second aspect of Feed Our Pack, the holiday activities, have also been extremely important. 

“We have a very close partnership with our local Primary Schools and The Way Youth Zone where in total we have delivered 90 sessions over the last year. 

“Not only do the camps ensure we can provide breakfast and lunch to young people who are usually entitled to free school meals, but they have somewhere warm and safe to go, to enjoy activities and not feel socially isolated. 

“Then we also distribute our own food support into the community in the form of food parcels, delivering 1,660 last year. 

“Again, this is put into place via referrals from schools, and, with the effects of the cost of living crisis, we have seen demand increase. 

“As an example, we doubled the number of food parcels going to some of our partner schools between October and December 2022. 

“This has highlighted the continuing need for Feed Our Pack, and why the support we have received from people across the community has been so important.” 

Mrs Danielle Darby, the headteacher at D’Eyncourt School, describes the project as an “unbelievable resource” viewed as an essential need for over 70 families to have enough food for the school holidays. 

“Parents speak very positively about Feed Our Pack and staff have worked hard to drive out the stigma attached to using foodbanks,” she adds. 

“We know without Feed Our Pack many families would struggle to provide meals during the school holidays.” 

Wolves’ fans have certainly played their part in the success of Feed Our Pack, raising over £80,000 to support the project’s work within the city. 

Supporters are also continuing to bring donations of non-perishable food on a matchday to the Feed Our Pack container in the Fan Zone, and these stocks have been invaluable in being distributed to different foodbanks if they find themselves in crisis. 

These donations have enabled Feed Our Pack to not only support the foodbank network, but also the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust who have recently established a food support hub for staff and volunteers. 

“The support we have received has been incredible and has been very much welcomed in helping us help others across the city,” adds Ollie. 

“Feed Our Pack started as a reaction to the coronavirus pandemic and trying to help people recover, and, within 12 months, became much needed as a response to the cost of living crisis. 

“The reasons people require support has changed, but the need has stayed the same. 

“Fans bringing donations on a matchday has been great to see and I think it also shows the importance of having the power of Wolves and the Foundation behind the project. 

“We’ve also had donations from away fans on match days too as food poverty and food insecurity isn’t just a Wolverhampton issue – it’s a national crisis which everyone can empathise with to some extent.

“People want to be involved and are interested in what we are trying to achieve. 

“As we now move into the third year of operation, one key area we will be looking into is the legacy of Feed Our Pack, and how we can make it sustainable beyond the initial three years.”

Feed Our Pack hasn’t been just about food over its first two years, with support also distributed across other areas. 

Amongst others, this has included distributing laptops and tablets for schoolchildren during lockdown, Wolves kit thanks to a collaboration with Young Wolves, hot water bottles during the cold weather and toys and gifts by linking up with the Foundation’s Shoebox Appeal over the last two Christmases. 

As is often the case with the Foundation, at times there has also been an overlap between Feed Our Pack and other projects delivered by the charity. 

“We have had people attend our Head 4 Health sessions which focus on improving mental health who have found themselves struggling from a food perspective,” says the Foundation’s Head of Health and Wellbeing Rachel Smith. 

“In these situations, we have been able to link them with Feed Our Pack to provide an emergency food parcel or refer them on to one of our partners if they need more sustained support. 

“Also, some of the schools which have benefitted from the holiday activity camps are schools we had already worked with as a Foundation, so again it just helps in strengthening those relationships and ensuring we are meeting the needs of the city. 

“Feed Our Pack is such an important and much-needed project and, while in an ideal world it wouldn’t be needed, it has brought staff and supporters together and highlighted the supportive spirit within the local community.” 

Feed Our Pack is certainly an initiative which has been crucial in helping people through some challenging times and will continue to do so by linking up with other charities and agencies across the city. 

But with encouraging people to work together and support each other, and by providing young people with the opportunity for education and exercise during the school holidays, there have been plenty of positives to emerge as the project heads into its third year. 

  • If you would like to support Feed Our Pack, click here to find out how you can support.

A big thank you to Feed Our Pack partners Levy, British Gas, His Church, and Midlands Truck & Van for their ongoing support of the project.

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