Addressing food insecurity and learning loss during school holidays

Date: 13th January 2021
Category: Education, including vocational education, Recreation, play and cultural activities, Child poverty, Mental health

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During summer 2020, YouthLink Scotland coordinated and supported a pilot program to address food insecurity during the school holiday period. The program was funded by Scottish Government and involved 152 young people (most aged 12-14) from six local authority areas. A report evaluating the pilot’s effectiveness, commissioned to The Lines Between, is now available online.

The pilot was based on data showing that deprivation, including food insecurity, can affect attendance at school. It was designed to maintain young people’s skills, motivation and engagement with education despite the holiday break.

In particular, it aimed to:

  • Improve learning and skills around food, cooking and healthy eating, and maximise the likelihood of young people continuing to cook.
  • Develop confidence. Empowerment and ownership are fundamental to the youth work approach. The report found that young people felt more confident about their achievements as a result of the project. Parents also became more confident about their children’s ability to cook safely.
  • Enhance group participation skills. Where possible, the project involved trips emphasising the social value of eating. Otherwise, online engagement was encouraged with the group participating in the pilot.
  • Strengthen relationships. The pilot successfully brought together family members, having a particularly positive impact on relationships.
  • Broaden perspectives. Young people were able to appreciate the value of youth work; change their perspectives towards money; re-evaluate life choices and their attitude towards school.

The evaluation report draws evidence from interviews with young people and other stakeholders, self-evaluation forms and referral and monitoring data from the projects. It finds that the project had very positive results, contributing to “learning, relationships, confidence, engagement with school, skills and eating”.

  • Read the full report here.