Tuesday’s (9 March) decision by the city council’s Cabinet means the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme, which will be launched this Easter, will provide support and meals to eligible children over the main school holiday periods after the authority received Government funding for the project.
The new programme, set to launch this Easter school holiday, will provide holiday activities and food for school age children who receive benefits-related free school meals, over the main school holiday periods, but the funding, from the Department for Education (DfE), will not cover half-term.
In preparation for the Easter holidays, Bristol City Council is working with city partners, including Feeding Bristol, Playful Bristol and Fareshare to develop a programme of face-to-face activities, home activity packs and food parcels.
For the Summer holidays Bristol City Council will work with a wider network of partners to develop a comprehensive programme of enrichment and physical activities that provide healthy and nutritious food as well as support for families
Councillor Anna Keen, cabinet lead for education and skills said: “We know the pandemic has had a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of our children and young people. This funding is a much-needed boost to help provide an additional level of support and build on the work we have been doing to address inequality exacerbated by the Covid pandemic.
“This is especially needed for the most vulnerable families in our city, who we know food poverty is a very real issue for and who cannot afford to pay for children’s activities over the holiday periods. We will ensure that this funding is targeted to those who need it most.”
The new programme marks International School Meals Day (ISMD) (11 March), with this year’s theme, ‘Eat for the health of it’, exploring affordable, nutritious foods and the links between food and nutrition, and children’s physical and mental health.
Andy Street, Chair of Feeding Bristol said: “This funding provides the basis for supporting the most vulnerable children and young people in our city with much needed food and activities – therefore contributing to their holistic needs. This will build on the work of Feeding Bristol in delivering the Heathy Holidays programme over the last two years, which didn’t benefit from Government Funding.
“We therefore have the opportunity to provide something quite exceptional this year, bringing together a range of city partners and community organisations in a coordinated and well-structured response. Our hope is that this will put in place a legacy for future years.”