During school holidays, children in the UK are at greater risk of hunger and food insecurity. Healthy Holidays programmes combine nutritious meals and enriching activities to protect children from hunger, as well as the negative physical and mental health impacts it brings in its wake.
- 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 for 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 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 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.
- 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 that can help them into employment.
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. By adding value to the work already being done, we can scale up provision in the most sustainable and cost-effective way.
Feeding Britain’s supporters in Parliament used 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, created to ensure that all children, young people and families have healthy, active, enriching school holidays every year.
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Picture: The Mayor’s Fund For London Kitchen Social Club at Paradise Park Children Centre with Frank Fields MP in Highbury, North London, UK. Photograph by Ben Stevens Wednesday 30th of August 2017