During school holidays, children in the UK are at greater risk of hunger and food insecurity. Healthy Holidays programmes combining nutritious meals and enriching activities protect children from hunger, as well as the negative physical and mental health impacts it brings in its wake.
Healthy Holidays programmes operate across the Feeding Britain network to ensure that children and families have the support they need when they need it most.
- 3 million children are at risk of hunger during the school holidays.
- The loss of free school meals during the holidays costs a family £30-40 per week.
- For children in poorer areas we see spelling skills decline or stagnate over the summer holidays, taking weeks to make up the learning loss.
- 19% of children under 15 live with someone who is food insecure.
How Healthy Holidays Helps
Reduce hunger: Holiday clubs disproportionately serve children from lower income families.
Reduce pressure on family budgets: Holiday clubs fill the gap left by the loss of term time free school meals, mitigate expensive childcare costs, and provide fun activities for free.
Support educational achievement: Providing food and enriching activities – such as cooking, arts, crafts, and sport – helps to alleviate drops and stagnation in educational performance. In this way they can help safeguard social mobility by ensuring all children are prepared for their return to school.
Combat social isolation: Holiday clubs strengthen bonds within and between families, and create volunteering opportunities.
Encourage healthy eating and physical activity: Holiday clubs provide opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity. This is particularly important in lower income areas which have a higher density of fast food takeout restaurants, and high obesity rates with connected health problems.
Build skills and employability: As well as helping parents to stay in work over holidays, some clubs also provide opportunities for people to build up skills, experience and confidence that can help them into employment.
Read a case study on holiday clubs from Cheshire West
Feeding Britain’s approach to Healthy Holidays programmes is centred around community. We know that there is already amazing work happening on the ground, with charities, community groups, local authorities, and community organisers all playing a crucial role in ensuring children are supported over the holidays.
We recognise the wealth of experience, relationships and resources that already exist within local communities, and believe that by adding value to the work already being done, we can scale up provision in the most sustainable and cost-effective way.
Together, Feeding Britain’s regional partners provided 43,236 meals to children and families over the 2017 summer and October holidays. In the summer of 2018, with support from the Department of Education, we supported 79 clubs in 9 areas to deliver 34,562 meal and activity sessions to 7,123 individual children. 90,000 meals were distributed in the summer of 2019, and more than one million in the summer of 2020.
Feeding Britain’s supporters in Parliament utilised the Healthy Holidays model as the basis of their legislative proposals to the Government, for a national programme of meals and activities for children during school holidays. The Government responded to these proposals by introducing the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme. Feeding Britain played an important role in HAF’s pilot phase, between 2018 and 2020, while continuing to build the evidence base which helped to secure a longer-term commitment to an expanded programme in 2021. Since then, Feeding Britain has played a leading role in the HAF Alliance of 16 organisations, created to ensure that all children, young people and families have healthy, active, enriching school holidays every year.
To support our efforts please donate today or consider setting up a monthly payment to ensure we can continue to extend and improve our reach.