Families have heaped praise on to theÂ Munch project,Â run by Park Community School (PCS) in Leigh Park, for keeping them fed during the holidays.
The initiative gives meals to needy youngsters and their families throughout the year '“Â even on Christmas Day '“ in a bid to tackle food poverty in the local area.
One parent who uses the service, who wishes to remain anonymous, told BBC Radio Solent: '˜Knowing that the kids have actually got a healthy, nutritious meal available to them, for us, is a lifeline.'Â
The work of those who run the service has not gone unrecognised, with Munch earning the Community Impact Award at Hampshire County Council's (HCC) debut Education Awards earlier this month.Â
The authority praised the project for not only fulfilling its objective to feed local people in need of support, but even combating isolation, parenting problems and mental health issues.Â
'˜Over the summer holidays we lived in a B and B. Coming over hereÂ the kids can have a hot meal, because in the B and B all we had was a kettle,' said another parent who uses the service.Â
Meanwhile, a youngster helped by the project said: '˜If we didn't come here, mum would probably be running on crumbs right now.'Â
As it honoured the PCS community team earlier this month, a HCC spokesperson said the school's Community Impact Award was for staff and volunteers who haveÂ '˜contributed to the wellbeing, positive culture and engagement with the school's stakeholders and key groups'.Â
'˜Through the creation of '˜Munch', the community team at Park Community School is ensuring that no child, no matter what school or age, needs to go hungry during the holidays and even on Christmas Day,' they added.Â
'˜The project's primary aim was to reduce food poverty but has also helped the local community deal with mental health, parenting problems and combating isolation.
'˜Munch enables families to sit together and eat in a communal way, engaging in conversation.
'˜Volunteers from local churches help at Munch, socialising with families and playing with children, once the meal is over.'