Thousands of families supported during school break to tackle ‘holiday hunger’

Date: 21st August 2017
Category: Right to life, survival and development, Child poverty

Almost 4,000 children, parents and guardians attended community clubs as part of Children in Scotland's Food, Families, Futures (FFF) scheme this summer which aims to tackle 'holiday hunger'.

FFF was launched last year after schools told Children in Scotland that many families in their communities were facing difficulties during the holiday periods when free school meal entitlement ends.

Working with food distribution company Brakes through its Meals & More programme alongside local councils and partner organisations, FFF was established to ensure families can be together, prepare healthy food, eat a free lunch, and take part in fun activities using schools as community hubs over the summer holiday period.

This summer, the clubs ran in 26 schools across Glasgow and West Dunbartonshire from Wednesday, 28 June - Friday, 11 August. The number of places taken up represents a significant increase and expansion of the project. Successful FFF pilots ran last summer at Ibrox and Dalmarnock Primaries, when a total of 140 children registered to attend the clubs.

Children in Scotland chief executive Jackie Brock said: "We are delighted by the impact FFF has made over the summer. But we are also aware that the demand for places highlights the real problems many families continue to face - and the urgent need for support and outreach to be strengthened.

"Partners groups such as PEEK and the Jeely Piece Club supported the clubs in each local area and were fundamental to the project's success."

"I want to thank them, our partner Brakes, Glasgow City Council, and the participating schools, but most particularly the families who took part in FFF. We hope that the project made a difference to them over the summer."

FFF ensured that parents can be directly involved in preparing and cooking healthy meals, supported by community chefs attached to the schools.

Pem Hulusi, Brakes' Meals & More programme manager, added: "We're proud to support children's wellbeing with our Meals & More programme, even as we highlight the needs of those without free school meals in the holidays. In visiting the clubs this summer, it was fantastic to see the difference compared to last year with the increase in provision.

"Seeing the kitchens packed with chefs from the communities, serving delicious meals for families, was a real highlight. It is terrible that there are families in the UK suffering from food poverty, but they do - and we're proud to work with Children in Scotland to tackle this issue.

Academic evaluation of summer holiday clubs across the UK, including those run under the FFF banner, is currently being led by Professor Greta Defeyter, director of healthy Llving at Northumbria University.

Professor Defeyter said: "Research has shown that holiday clubs afford a number of benefits to families and children. For example, holiday clubs help to reduce social isolation, provide a structure for family engagement in physical and social activities, provide free, healthy food, and bring communities together.

"We know that many children suffer from educational learning loss across the summer and we are currently investigating whether holiday clubs help to attenuate this loss."