A food partnership from Cardiff is calling for more action to address the growing issue of ‘holiday hunger’ among children in the UK.
Food Cardiff is urging policy makers to remedy the lack of food provision for children during the summer holidays. For many families, particularly those in areas of social deprivation, lack of free school meals outside term time means that some children regularly miss meals.
Food Cardiff comprises several organisations including City of Cardiff Council and Cardiff and Vale University Health Board. Last summer, it opened schools across the city to deliver Food and Fun, a multi-agency pilot providing quality meals, nutrition skills and sports education to children in deprived areas.
The pilot was a much-needed lifeline to families, who reported skipping fewer meals, relying less on food banks and trying new foods. 79% of parents felt that the project had taken financial pressure off the family.
It also captured the attention of food and health industry professionals, winning several awards across the UK.
Katie Palmer is Sustainable Food Cities Co-ordinator for Food Cardiff. She says: “It’s shameful that in the twenty-first century there are children in the UK going hungry. The scale of holiday hunger is such that it requires a collaborative, coordinated response at local level, underpinned by national policy. That’s why the awards are important – we want to shout far and wide about this issue and the solutions to it.”
The success of Food and Fun has resulted in a national programme, co-ordinated by the Welsh Local Government Association, to run in five local authorities in Wales (Cardiff, Vale of Glamorgan, Neath Port Talbot, Denbighshire and Wrexham) during summer 2016. It is estimated that up to 1,000 children will benefit.
Katie added: “So many agencies have the potential to address holiday provision and I’m proud that local authority catering teams in Wales are leading the way with such enthusiasm and dedication. With the Children’s Health Fund offering grants of up to five thousand pounds to address this issue, there is opportunity to develop effective delivery models. ”
The programme runs for four weeks in summer and will include breakfast, lunch, nutrition skills, education and sports. Once a week, families will be invited to the schools to enjoy lunch together. The programme makes excellent use of schools and facilities that would otherwise be lying dormant during the school break.
Child food poverty expert Lindsay Graham has praised Food Cardiff’s efforts: “Food and Fun is an ideal model of sustainable holiday provision and one that I regularly reference to UK ministers regarding child hunger. It’s fantastic that a national partnership is now driving this work forward and I wish all those delivering Food and Fun across Wales this summer the best of luck.”