When schools are closed for half terms and holidays what happens to the families that rely on their children receiving free school meals?
This is the problem that the Caritas Food Collective holiday clubs seek to address.
Last week was the second time these clubs were run, and, as in October, seven clubs were held in some of the most deprived areas of Westminster Diocese.
Caritas Food Collective worked with schools and parishes in Kenton, Islington, White City, Kilburn, Feltham, Stevenage and Borehamwood, bringing food and fun to 360 people.
As well as serving a healthy lunch of baked potatoes, with a choice of fillings, followed by pancakes and fruit, our volunteers put on activities such as crafts and games for the children.
At each location a parents’ information session was run on topics ranging from First Aid, and Healthy Eating to budgeting. We welcomed the input from Stevenage Credit union and Citizens advice in Borehamwood as well as other experts and volunteers.
Despite the bad weather for most of the week, children got their exercise with volunteer sports coaches including from QPR, Arsenal and Stevenage Football Clubs.
The events could not have happened without the 91 volunteers who gave up their time, and the food supplied by the Felix project, including more than 250 bags-full for families to take away – all of it food that, despite being perfectly safe and healthy was “surplus to requirements” and at risk of going to landfill.
However, these clubs are not just about giving hand-outs. Parents and children appreciate the community atmosphere, the chance to be creative and physically active together, and the chance for struggling parents to find out where they might be able to get additional support.
No child should be going hungry in the holidays and no parent should have to make the choice between feeding themselves or feeding their children. Holiday clubs provide a little respite from the everyday difficulties and, for some families, might help them take that next small step towards food security.