Packed lunches for 12,000 youngsters across Burnley, Pendle and Ribble Valley made and delivered by caring chef and businessman Chris

Packed lunches, made and delivered by businessman and chef Chris Burt, will be given to around 12,000 children over the summer holidays.

Tuesday, 3rd August 2021, 3:45 pm

Chris, who is partner at successful Padiham based Simply Classic, became involved in the holiday activities and food programme, an initiative run by the government to provide healthy food and enriching activities for disadvantaged children over the summer holidays.

The government provides funding for the schemes to lay on activities for youngsters and also healthy lunches.

Providing the lunches at cost, Chris has been getting up at 5-30am each week day to make the lunch bags which he then delivers personally to 20 settings running the HAF programme across Burnley, Pendle, Hyndburn and the Ribble Valley.

Chris ready to set off delivering the lunch bags he has packed up for youngsters across Burnley, Pendle and the Ribble Valley

Chris said: "Yes, it's tough getting up so early but it is worth it to see the smiles on the children's faces when I arrive with the lunches. That is so rewarding.

"I am a father myself so I didn't hesitate to get involved with this scheme to make sure as many children as possible get a healthy lunch during the holidays.

"We aren't making any money from this and I am doing this is my own time because it's something very close to my heart.

A provisio of the HAF scheme is that settings must use some of the funding to provide food but this was proving unaffordable for many, as shops and businesses were asking for up to £5 a head for the lunch boxes.

Chris with his young helpers, his sons James and Lewis

Chris has been making the lunches at UCLan in Burnley after the organisation offered its kitchen facilities.

Offering youngsters a choice of sandwich filling, Chris uses all branded products, 50 50 bread, including vegetarian and halal options, and the lunch bags also have raisin and yoghurt snacks, fruit, crisps and, as a little treat, a chocolate bar.

Keen to ensure that every child receives a lunch box Chris even tailormade one for a child with a series of allergies.

Chris said: "His mum messaged me to thank me for doing this, she was so happy and grateful.

"But I don't want any child to be left out. We always ask about allergies so that every child is catered for."

Seeing their dad working so hard on the packed lunches, Chris' two sons, James (12) and 10-year-old Lewis, have now asked if they can become involved with helping to deliver them.

Moving forward Chris would like to see the councils for each area of Burnley, Pendle, the Ribble Valley and Hyndburn, form a central 'hub' with facilities in place and businesses, groups and volunteers on board to provide the packed lunches.