The summer holidays may be filled with weeks of carefree fun for many – but for 3 million children in the UK it means facing hunger, as families struggle to provide extra meals.
Feeding Bristol is seeking to combat this food poverty with a programme of activities running throughout the school break that will offer young people from disadvantaged areas in the city a chance to get out and eat together.
The organisation has been granted £30,000 from the Department of Education for the pilot scheme that is being rolled out in eight areas across the country.
“During holiday periods many children are at risk of missing out on meals, and experiencing real hunger,” explained Andy Street, chair of feeding Bristol.
“Combining fun activities with food provision is an excellent way of supporting children during one of the most vulnerable times of the year. Through this funding it is estimated that nearly 3,000 meals will be provided, and contributions made to the core costs of three great projects supporting children.”
He added that the funding will make a significant difference to the provision of food for disadvantaged children across the city.
Feeding Bristol, part of the national Feeding Britain network, is a coalition of local charities and community organisations working to provide access to good food for all across Bristol.
It was borne out of recognition that the long summer holiday can be particularly hard for low-income families who struggle to cover the additional food costs in the absence of free school meals.
It is also hoped that the programme of activities will have a beneficial effect on children’s health, physical activity levels, educational progress and social skills.
Supporting the initiative, Kerry McCarthy, the MP for Bristol East, said: “Bristol is the third wealthiest city in the country, but too many children in our city go hungry during the school holidays.
“It’s a blight on their childhood and on their future, with children returning to school after the break educationally and developmentally behind their peers.
“Feeding Bristol is working with those who are running holiday clubs to fill the gap, so all children can enjoy their summer holidays, and this funding will make a valuable contribution towards such work”.
Nationwide, the Department for Education is providing a total of £2m to support research into best practices for holiday clubs.
Read more: Bid to end food poverty in Bristol