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Children’s poems aim to break stigma surrounding food banks

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Youngsters in Stroud are being urged to pen a short poem about hunger and what it means to them, as part of a national competition run by anti-poverty charity the Trussell Trust, which supports a network of food banks across the UK.

The charity is calling on children, aged nine and under, to create and draw a hungry character and tell its story in the form of a short poem – as part of its Bye Bye Hunger competition.

The top 20 entries will be published in a poetry book and one star prize winner will see their character brought to life in a Trussell Trust campaign to end the need for food banks. The deadline for entries is this weekend – Sunday 30 May.

The competition launches a time when more families in Stroud than ever are relying on food banks to feed their children. The Trussell Trust distributed 1,998 emergency food parcels* for children facing crisis in Stroud between April 2020 and March 2021.* This is an increase on the previous year when 1,495 parcels were given out for children across the same area.

The idea for the Bye Bye Hunger competition was inspired by a mother who sent a poem to the Trussell Trust earlier this year about how she was judged for needing a food bank to feed her child.

The Trussell Trust turned her poem into a short film, which has been backed by celebrities including musician Liam Payne, comedian Dawn French and Simon King from The Hairy Bikers. The poem asks whether it’s acceptable for the fifth richest country in the world to need food banks to feed its children.

Explaining how she couldn’t afford to feed herself or her young child, the mother’s poem includes the line: “I needed free food because I didn’t have enough money, I didn’t have enough food in my child’s tummy”.

The competition will aim to continue the conversation around poverty and hunger and will encourage young people across Stroud to call for a hunger-free future.

Dom Joly pic | Children's poems aim to break stigma surrounding food banks
Dom Joly.

A panel of celebrity judges – including comedian Dom Joly, actress Tamzin Outhwaite and Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell – have been chosen to select the winning entries. They will be looking for children to showcase their imagination, use of language, emotion and storytelling in their poems.

Dom Joly said: “The Bye Bye Hunger poetry competition is a brilliant opportunity for us adults to learn from the far wiser and brighter minds of kids aged nine and under. They see things we don’t and I’m really looking forward to seeing their creativity in action – and the hunger free future they draw for us.”

Tamzin Outhwaite, who played Mel Owen in Eastenders, said: “The mother’s poem was just so heart-breaking. We must stop and reflect on this and create a hunger free future together. That’s why I’m proud to be a judge for the Bye Bye Hunger poetry competition. It’s a wonderful way for kids to share their amazing imaginations and show us all what a hunger free future looks like.”

Children have until Sunday 30 May to submit their entries. Find out more and enter at: www.trusselltrust.org/poems

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