Fresh bid to combat holiday hunger as more Portsmouth children need free food outside of school

Councillor Darren Sanders says the council is 'taking action' to rectify the issue. Picture: Malcolm Wells
Councillor Darren Sanders says the council is 'taking action' to rectify the issue. Picture: Malcolm Wells

FREE food will now be available for Portsmouth children during every school holiday of the year as part of a £10,000 project that seeks to eliminate 'holiday hunger.'

Today  Portsmouth councillors approved the expansion of the Holiday Food and Fun Programme that offers healthy food to youngsters, as well as playground activities, family cooking classes and nutritional education.

Since 2017 the programme has provided breakfasts, lunches and snacks for children in the summer holidays via adventure playgrounds across the city.

But this year funding for the scheme, known previously as Summer Food and Fun, has more than doubled to tackle food poverty during all school breaks including the upcoming Easter holiday in April.

Councillor Darren Sanders welcomed the project's growth. 'This programme is a brilliant asset to the adventure playgrounds and youth service sites in Portsmouth,' he said.

'They provide an extra layer of education and benefits to the children that attend. The programme has been successful in the past and I look forward to reviewing the proposal to see how it could grow and further benefit children in the city.'

The scheme comes as part of the council's Play Youth Community strategy that also seeks to encourage social interaction between young people.

 Last year saw an increase for demand with 50 per cent more food provided to children across the sites during the summer, with a total of 7,000 healthy meals and snacks handed out – up from 4,500 in 2017.

Proposals for the scheme this year also include teaching families about growing fruit and vegetables.

The Holiday Food and Fun programme will take place across the six Portsmouth City Council adventure playground sites and four youth clubs.

Families cabinet member Cllr Rob Wood said: 'Our playgrounds and youth centres are doing so much vital work.’

'This is something as a society we need to be doing.'

Last year saw an increase for demand with 50 per cent more food provided to children across the sites during the summer, with a total of 7,000 healthy meals and snacks handed out - up from 4,500 in 2017.

Proposals for the scheme this year also include teaching families about growing fruit and vegetables.

The Holiday Food and Fun programme will take place across the six adventure playground sites and four youth clubs in Portsmouth.

The £10,000 for 2019/20 will be funded by a public health grant.