Free meals to be given out across Hampshire to tackle holiday hunger

Pupils and staff in kitchen of the Park Community School, Havant, which will be coordinating free meals across the summer holidays.
Pupils and staff in kitchen of the Park Community School, Havant, which will be coordinating free meals across the summer holidays.
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More than £350,000 has been granted to a school in Havant as the latest effort to tackle school children going hungry in the holidays. 

The Department of Education granted more than £350,000 to Park Community School to run their ‘Connect4Summer’ scheme, which will provide healthy cooking classes for children and their parents or carers throughout the summer holidays. 

Children in receipt of free school meals will be eligible for the free food, with 20 events planned across August. 

The school is working to finalise the venues for the events, which are set to take place in Portsmouth, Havant, Fareham, and Hayling Island. 

Christoper Anders, headteacher of Park Community School, said: ‘It’s quite daunting, but we’re very pleased to have been granted the funds.

‘Some of our children face lots of issues – if we’re able to help so they don’t go hungry, it is one less thing for them to worry about.’ 

‘We currently run a meal club and the children who attend tell me they are feeling much better because of it.’

The events come as a series of organisation have pledged to offer free meals to tackle pupils going without food outside of school, with more than 20,000 children across Hampshire living in poverty. 

Portchester Community Centre will launch its second Lunch Box club next Tuesday and Friday, offering all children the choice of a hot meal or sandwich. 

The Lunch Box Club will return with more than 15 clubs planned for the school holidays throughout the year. 

Kim Hoflay, Events & Community Liaison at Portchester Community Centre, said: ‘We opened it up to everyone because we want to make as much difference as possible.’

‘There are areas of Portchester where it’s a real problem.

‘It goes under the radar – it’s a pride issue, where people don't want to address the challenges they’re facing.’ 

The centre sees the work as addressing more than just hunger. 

Kim added: ‘It’s a chance to improve the kids’ nutrition and their social inclusion at the same time.

‘And parents don’t need to stay - so its a good opportunity for them to have a break and grab a cup of tea.’

Christopher agreed: ‘One of the greatest things about these sorts of projects is seeing kids sitting down and eating together.

‘it is not just about the food poverty issue - it is also about making the school a place the children want to be in.’ 

Earlier this year, Portsmouth City Council more than doubled its Holiday Food and Fun Programme that offers healthy food to youngsters at adventure playgrounds across the city.