4 September 2018
"Food provides the building blocks for growing bodies and minds". That is the philosophy of Claudia Parrino, who managed Ipswich's Fit and Fed programme for schoolchildren over the summer holidays.
The programme, which takes its inspiration from national charity Street Games, provided sport, physical activity and nutritious meals to children across Ipswich.
Supported by Suffolk County Council, it is the first of its kind in the region and runs throughout the school holidays, offering a safe place for children aged from ten to 14 to socialise, make friends, keep healthy and have a routine.
Fit and Fed works with a range of partners which support the summer 2018 programme in various ways, either through volunteering, venue hosting, delivering activities and training, or in the case of FareShare – providing nutritious, healthy and child-friendly food.
Activities this summer ran Monday to Friday at three locations – Westbourne, Chantry and Ipswich Academies – with on average 12 children attending sessions at each.
Claudia, who manages the project, says that food is vital to its offer. “Not only does food provide the building blocks for growing bodies and minds – it also enables social skills as children sit down with the coaches to enjoy their meal in a social setting,” she explains.
“Although Ipswich already had several sporting programmes for children to enjoy for free over the school holiday, Fit and Fed is the only project which offers a healthy meal for free after each session.
“Our lunches are carefully put together following Public Health’s guidelines and Live Well Plate. Each day every child receives a healthy meal consisting of a sandwich with tuna, cheese or ham filling, portion of fruit, yogurt and/or cheese and a drink.
“We are keen to support local voluntary and community sector partners and are very lucky to have FareShare East Anglia based in Ipswich, less than 5 minutes away by car from one of our venues.
“Working with FareShare to provide the food for our programme means that the support is mutual - we receive good quality food to make healthy packed lunches for local children. In turn, the partnership allows FareShare to continue to support other charities and schools, which also support children, families, and vulnerable adults. So it’s a win, win situation.
“Without the support of FareShare the cost of purchasing food would have been much more expensive and as a result it may have made the project a non-starter.”
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.
In just one year there has been a 150% increase in demand for holiday food provision and FareShare is appealing to the public for donations. Just £7 could enable FareShare to provide 28 meals for children at a holiday project. To find out more and donate to FareShare’s ActiveAte campaign, visit fareshare.org.uk/ActiveAte