A programme aimed at helping children in some of Wales’ most deprived areas is being expanded this Summer, as children in more areas will be able to take advantage of opportunities to be more active, eat more healthily and forge new friendships.
‘Food and Fun’ is a school-based programme that provides good quality meals, food and nutrition sessions and physical activity to children in deprived areas during the summer holidays.
Successfully piloted by WLGA in five local authority areas in 2016, ‘Food and Fun’ has expanded to 12 local authority areas this year thanks to £500,000 funding from Welsh Government. A total of 39 schools in those local authority areas are taking part, with the scheme expected to reach 1,500 children this year.
During the school holidays, when free breakfast in primary schools and free school meals are not available, some families struggle to afford or access food that provides a healthy diet. Some children also experience social isolation and a lack of intellectual stimulation normally provided by school or family enrichment activities which may contribute to widening the attainment gap. The ‘Food and Fun’ programme has been designed to respond to this need during the Summer months.
WLGA Spokesperson for Education, Councillor Debbie Wilcox (Newport) said:
“Schools provide a familiar and safe environment for children attending ‘Food and Fun’ clubs, which have been set up and run by existing school staff and partners over the school summer holidays.
“The scheme has engaged a variety of agencies providing enrichment activities that not only reduce the likelihood of learning loss, but to also spark interest in new sports, hobbies and forging new friendships.
“Across Wales, we are witnessing children enjoying fun and exciting activities, while parents report happier, more contented children that look forward to their next ‘Food and Fun’ club day, which also alleviates the financial pressure felt over the summer holidays.”
Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams AM said:
“These clubs will offer a positive environment for all our children during the summer holidays, including providing free meals, as well as a range of activities and fun through what can be a long break for some.
“The reality is for some of our young people the school summer holidays can be a difficult time. Children who benefit from free school breakfasts and lunches often miss meals and go hungry once their school closes for the holidays, while the lack of free play schemes and sports activities can have an impact on those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.
“My ambition is to make sure everyone in Wales, no matter what their background, has the opportunity to thrive and achieve their best. I remain committed to closing the achievement gap between the pupils from our most deprived communities and those from more prosperous areas.”
To find out more about the ‘Food and Fun’ programme, please visit http://wlga.wales/food-and-fun.