29 August 2018
Over 5,000 children living across Medway in Kent receive a free school meal during term time, so when schools close holiday hunger is a reality for many young people in the area.
Medway Council’s Public Health team is working hard to support families which are more at risk of going hungry over the holidays through their “Holiday Kitchen” programme. This year, the Council has also been working with specific schools on a new “Cook, Eat and Play” initiative, supported by food from FareShare Kent through the charity’s #ActiveAte campaign.
Cook, Eat and Play is a three hour, five week session which is designed to educate families like Daisy, dad Kieran and mum Lisa (pictured), on preparing food, increasing their confidence through trying out different types of food, and demonstrating the benefits of sitting down together to eat together, as well as doing physical activities and games for all the family.
With over 15 sessions during August, Rachel Hogben-Lambert from Medway Council‘s Public Health Team says they are able to support 750 people across the summer.
“It’s mostly mums and their children, but we do get a few dads, and also grandparents, who step in to do childminding when the parents have to work over the holidays.
“We provide breakfast, a snack, then lunch, so the FareShare food has been amazing. But we don’t always know what we’re getting and the first week we were given mussels. Not everyone likes them, and they are expensive so it’s not the sort of thing parents on a tight budget buy – but they have been great for the kids to try them out – and some are now converts,” says Rachel.
“We’ve also received a load of pomegranates, which have been brilliant. Most of the kids hadn’t ever had them before and loved them, and the crunchiness of the seeds in salads have been a real novelty for them.”
Rachel says the entire programme means they can help point families towards other support services, and also help to tackle loneliness; and the programme has direct results.
She adds: “We are able to provide an improvement in families’ diets, health and wellbeing; while also making sure that the children are more active in the holidays.”
FareShare launched #ActiveAte in June - a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of holiday hunger and increase its provision of meals for children at risk of food poverty this summer. ActiveAte supports projects which not only provide food but also activities such as sport or drama. In doing so, children enjoy their summer holidays on a full stomach, but are also kept active and develop their skills, able to return to school in September healthy and ready to learn.
To find out more and donate to FareShare’s ActiveAte campaign, visit fareshare.org.uk/ActiveAte