9 March 2018
While for many families the summer holiday means day trips and activities, for families on lower incomes the six-week break can be a difficult time. Affording food can become a problem for families who usually rely on free school meals and the pressure to organise costly things to do only adds to the financial burden.
Using food from FareShare, Golden Hillock Holiday Kitchen is taking some of the stress out of the holidays by providing meals and activities for free.
Noshin Bano, Manager of the four-week play scheme for children aged up to 11 years old, says “It is for families where there is a gap in their local area and little social capital, leading to limited opportunities for children during holidays. Families are referred to us through a range of sources. We make it fun and create an opportunity for parents to bond with children and the wider community.”
“Holiday Kitchen has been good and given us something to do. It’s nice to go out and interact with other people. Teon has started to eat more healthily too. We made fruit kebabs with blackberries in one of the sessions. Teon and I hadn’t tried blackberries before and now we both really like them. We’re both eating more fruit now.”
Jazzmin and son Teon
Children fill up on a breakfast of cereal and fruit when they arrive at 10am, keeping them going through a morning packed with activities such as face painting, singing and aerobics. Every surface is covered with creations made by the children over the holidays, from Olympic rings made out of clay to collages of found feathers and leaves. Once hands have been washed and toys tidied away, everyone comes together at 1pm for a shared nutritious lunch followed by fruit and yoghurt, all from FareShare.
Encouraging healthy eating at home is an integral part of Holiday Kitchen and Noshin and her team lead family cooking sessions, which teach simple but healthy recipes such as fruit kebabs and decorating pitta pizzas. Budgeting and nutrition advice is integrated into the activities to help parents plan at home. “Obesity is an issue in our area so this is part of our health education programme” explains Noshin. “Parents really benefit from the freshness of the food we receive from FareShare and it helps us promote health and wellbeing.”
“The food is nice and there’s a good variety. Making the fruit kebabs was good. Holiday Kitchen keeps my daughter occupied during the holidays. She talks about it and can’t wait to go along.”
FareShare West Midlands supports Holiday Kitchen with fresh fruit and veg as well as yoghurt, milk and cereal, which is used for breakfast, lunch and family activities. Long-life basics from FareShare, such as rice and pasta, are also given to families to take home.
With funding tight, the food from FareShare is essential to the longevity of the programme. Noshin says “FareShare has really made a difference. It helps us with funding as we need to be robust in how we spend our money. The money we save by using FareShare allows us to invest in more resources, such as materials for craft activities like our Olympic themed bag decorating. FareShare has created lots of efficiencies. As well as saving money, FareShare saves us time too as food is delivered here.”
Golden Hillock is one of six Holiday Kitchens across Birmingham, with the programme supported by Birmingham City Council and operating for the past three years. All staff receive cooking training to pass on skills to parents and are trained in health and safety to level 2.
“The biggest benefit of Holiday Kitchen is that it keeps the children busy. Having three children, even going into town isn’t necessarily that simple. In the holidays it can be hard to find alternatives to watching the TV as there’s a lot of hours to fill. Holiday Kitchen is great because I know they won’t watch TV here and it’s free. It makes the holidays easier and I’m relaxed here. I like that the children are getting a healthy eating message at Holiday Kitchen as it’s really important to me so. We love cooking together as a family and have been making healthy ice lollies and fruit smoothies at home.”
Amina and children Sharjeel, Aafia and Abdullah
To help combat the issue of Holiday Hunger, FareShare’s #ActiveAte programme is supplying food to over 200 holiday projects this summer, providing nutritious meals and snacks for approximately 20,000 children across the UK. Like Golden Hillock Holiday Kitchen, the projects we are supporting offer food and fun activities to ensure that children can enjoy their summer holidays on a full stomach and return to school happy and healthy.
During this time of additional pressure on low-income families, we are appealing for donations to the campaign through our website. Just £20 can provide 80 meals for children at a holiday project, with all donations playing a key role in keeping children active and well fed this summer.