Poverty stricken kids could get free food

Hundreds of hungry children could be given free meals over the summer holidays
Hundreds of hungry children could be given free meals over the summer holidays
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Hundreds of hungry children could be given free meals over the summer holidays following a successful pilot scheme to help poor families.

Parents living in poverty rely on free school meals during term time but often struggle during the six weeks holiday.

Last summer Sheffield Council ran a project to reduce “holiday hunger” and ease the financial strain on families in neighbourhoods with high levels of child poverty.

Families were offered free nutritious food, activities and advice on healthy eating. A number of community organisations in Netherthorpe, Firth Park, Broomhall, Manor and Castle and Sharrow helped to roll out the scheme with £30,000 of funding from the Fairness Commission.

It aimed to reach 200 different children who are eligible for free school meals. Other children, such as those not of school age, were also included and overall more than 7,228 meals were provided for families

Manor, where people use food banks more than anywhere else in the city, was one of the main areas. But officers say if the scheme ran again this year, it would need to be rolled out further.

In a report to councillors, officers say: “There were areas of very high deprivation that the project did not cover. An example of this is Burngreave, which according to the latest child poverty figures is the highest area in Sheffield for child poverty.

“Any further projects of a similar nature would need to ensure wider coverage to take in the areas of very highest need.”

The organisations involved in the scheme said in some cases, parents would only attend sessions if food was served - sessions that included food had a 35 percent higher attendance than those which didn’t.

A market stall where families could make a donation was very popular and if there were any activities involving food, mums could take the leftovers home.

Because of high numbers of families attending, extra food deliveries were organised to keep up with demand.

Funding is not yet in place to run the scheme again this summer. Councillors will discuss it at a meeting next week.