United Kingdom: FareShare serves up meals during school holiday

In the United Kingdom, approximately 3.7 million children live in households that are likely unable to afford a healthy diet. For many children, school meals may be the only meals that provide access to healthy and nutritious foods. In 2014, recognizing the importance of school meals for many children and families, the UK government implemented universal infant free school meals (UIFSM) for children ages four to seven and provided funding for free school breakfast programs in some of the more vulnerable communities. However, these programs are only available to children during the school year. The United Kingdom does not have any universal school holiday feeding programs.

FareShare, the United Kingdom’s longest-running food redistribution charity, works to alleviate child hunger during school breaks. It provides nutritious food packs to holiday hunger programs throughout the United Kingdom. During the summer of 2016, FareShare distributed food to 19 summer holiday food programs in Derbyshire. FareShare also worked with each organization to ensure its facilities met certain standards, including proper food handling. They ensured that at least one staff member or volunteer reached Level 2 Food Hygiene standards. The impact of the holiday hunger feeding programs went beyond the children and parents. Local families in the community received surplus food from some of the programs.

FareShare’s #ActiveAte campaign brings awareness to the issues of holiday hunger. Children who do not have access to adequate meals during school holidays return to school malnourished and have greater difficulty learning and succeeding in school. Holiday hunger can also impact families. The difficulties of providing extra meals at home can add financial and physical stress on parents and caretakers. Launched in June 2018, #ActiveAte calls on the food industry to provide healthy, child-friendly food to children and support summer activities for children out of school. In 2019 #ActiveAte supplied food to over 400 holiday projects during the summer, nourishing approximately 50,000 children.

In 2019 FareShare’s #ActiveAte campaign supplied food to over 400 holiday projects during the summer, nourishing approximately 50,000 children.

One organization that benefits from FareShare food packs is the New Parks Play Association (NPPA), which supports 120 children between the ages of 4 and 16 during school holidays and breaks. FareShare distributes sandwiches, dairy, cooked meat, fruits, snacks, and drinks to NPPA. Bethan Lloyd, a staff member at NPPA, said, “The food from FareShare made a huge difference to our organization. Many of the children would just go hungry if we were not able to feed them.”

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