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Glasgow City Council

More than 131,000 meals served to Glasgow's children in a bid to beat holiday hunger

Funding, totalling £863,360, was given to 97 organisations across the city, already delivering holiday programmes, to upscale and expand their usual activities to include food and spaces for more children to attend their service.

A report to the council's Wellbeing, Empowerment, Community and Citizen Engagement City Policy Committee showed that during the school summer holidays 14,674 nursery, primary and secondary school children received 131,508 healthy meals and snacks.

The initiative was part of the council's on-going work to tackle food poverty and inequality; where people cannot afford or do not have access to nutritious food, important for health and wellbeing. These problems are exacerbated during school holiday periods where parents, some of whom will benefit from free meals during the school term, worry about being able to feed their children and in worst cases, children can suffer from hunger and malnourishment.

Supported by the Voluntary Action Fund (VAF), who worked with organisations wanting to become involved, assessed applications and distributed the funding, the programme also has many other benefits for the children and their families and in the wider community.

As part of an evaluation report VAF found that 'There has been a feeling of communities coming together, barriers being broken down and children, young people and their families integrating with others when normally some would be socially isolated.'

Both parents of the children who attended and the organisations themselves asserted that it provided children opportunities to meet new people, socialise, build confidence and self-esteem, do more physical activity and learn new skills. For many attendees they also assisted in the planning and cooking of the meals they were enjoying, laying the groundwork on leading a healthy lifestyle.

These findings were also backed up by an NHS evaluation that found the holiday food programme reduced the risk of children going without food during the school holidays and helped lessen the worries parents and carers have about feeding their children over the holiday period, known as food security.

It questioned the parents of the children that attended the programmes and showed that integrating healthy food, activities and childcare in a holiday programme was highly rated by parents. They too saw positive changes in their children as a result of attending the programmes that could also see benefits in the classroom after the holidays.

Councillor Allan Gow, Glasgow City Council's treasurer, said; "Feeding your family over the holidays is a very real worry for many in the city. This programme has not only helped to alleviate food poverty but it also reduces the stigmatism around those who suffer from it by being inclusive to all of the city's children. It helps to build equality and relationships within the community.

"The evaluation work has shown the programme to have numerous associated benefits to the children attending, their families, the wider communities in which they run and even in the organisations themselves.

"I'm pleased that work is progressing to make funds available for the mid-term holidays in February and looking ahead to next Easter."

The programme was also run successfully over the October week holiday, where around 6000 children benefitted.

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