Funding of more than £0.5million has been approved by Hampshire County Council to support schemes that will provide food and activities over the Christmas school holiday to children who are eligible for free school meals
At her Decision Day on 10 November 2021 Councillor Roz Chadd, the Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services, approved 113 separate grant awards, totaling £541,860. The funding comes from the Department for Education’s Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme, which was set up so local authorities could offer healthy food and enriching activities to children who are eligible for free school meals during the 2021 school holidays at Easter, summer and Christmas.
Councillor Chadd said: “The school holidays can be particularly challenging for parents and carers, especially this year with the impact of COVID-19. I feel it is especially important that we support schemes that will benefit Hampshire children over the Christmas break when there are even more financial demands on families. Taking part in free holiday clubs where they can have fun and enjoy a nutritious meal ensures that children from low-income families do not miss out on the benefits offered by organised out-of-school activities. Children can eat more healthily, become more active, learn new skills, and socialise together in a safe environment.
“Through our connect4communities programme, HAF providers not only feed the children participating in their activities but also help them and their families to develop an understanding of nutrition and food budgeting. In addition, they can link families to a host of support services, related to health, employment and education among others.”
The aim of the HAF programme is to make free places available to eligible children for the equivalent of at least four hours a day, four days a week and for six weeks a year. In 2021, this has covered four weeks in the summer and a week’s worth of provision in the Easter and Christmas holidays. Organisations can also offer additional places to fee-paying families.
Parents and carers can sign up for free school meals using the Hampshire Online FSM Application (cloudforedu.org.uk) and find out what local activities are on offer by searching the Family Information and Services Hub.