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More than 14,500 children given free meals during school holidays to help combat 'holiday hunger'

Image credit: Danny Lawson/Press Association

More than 14,500 children given free meals during school holidays to help combat 'holiday hunger'

More than 14,500 children in Glasgow were provided with free meals during the summer holidays as part of a programme designed to tackle food poverty.

The Children’s Holiday Food Programme, funded by Glasgow City Council and delivered by charities, third sector organisations and community groups, fed a total of 14,674 children during the seven-week holiday period.

The nursery, primary and secondary pupils received 131,508 healthy meals and snacks in total.

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

The initiative was part of Glasgow City Council’s ongoing work to tackle food poverty and inequality, which is 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. In worst cases, children can suffer from hunger and malnourishment.

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 initiative was supported by the Voluntary Action Fund (VAF), who worked with organisations wanting to become involved, assessed applications and distributed the funding.

As part of an evaluation report, the VAF found there was 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.”

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.

Gow added: “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.”

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