The University is supporting a campaign fronted by footballer, Marcus Rashford, offering food and holiday activities to children in England this summer.
The FixOurFood research project team has supported the Food Foundation in launching a film which aims to encourage parents to sign up to the Government’s expanded £220m Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) Programme.
The programme’s holiday club places are free to those who receive free school meals, with children and young people of all ages and backgrounds welcome.
The film features children from schools across the UK, including those from the primary school in Manchester where Marcus Rashford MBE attended.
Marcus Rashford MBE said: “I know only too well that the holidays can be a really difficult time for families who are struggling. It’s such a weight of their shoulders to know that there is a safe space for their children to go, where their minds can be stimulated, and where they are guaranteed at least one meal a day.”
FixOurFood project lead, Professor Bob Doherty from The York Management School said: “Early evidence from the FixOurFood programme shows dietary intake in children consistently fails to meet recommendations with many consuming above recommended free sugars and saturated fat and inadequate amounts of fibre, vitamin D, fruits and vegetables.
Dr Maria Bryant from the Department of Health Sciences who leads the work in early years and schools for the project added: “Our project is developing interventions in early years and school food systems in which tasty, good quality, sustainable food is the ‘default’ and easiest choice for children. At the heart of this vision is that all children have an opportunity to benefit – ensuring those in greatest need are not left behind or alienated.”
Anna Taylor, CEO of the Food Foundation said: “We really welcome this move by the Government to launch the Holiday Activities and Food Programme so that it can reach the children across England who need it.
“The pandemic has hit the most vulnerable and disadvantaged the hardest, with food poverty at the heart of the difficulties for many families. It’s absolutely crucial that we are supporting our young people so that they can overcome these challenges and thrive.”
New data reveals 30 per cent of parents of school-aged children are worried about feeding their children over the summer holidays. This is higher among parents with children (aged 8-16) on Free School Meals with 49 per cent worried about feeding their children over the summer holidays. Overall, 85 per cent of parents of school-aged children think that the Government should be providing holiday clubs.
Last summer’s pilot programme supported around 50,000 children across 17 local authorities. However, this is the first year that expanded holiday clubs will be available to children across the whole of England. They will run this summer and then during the Christmas holidays too, a move which has been supported by Rashford, the Food Foundation and the Child Food Poverty Taskforce.
Parents of eligible children can sign their children up for their local summer programme and are encouraged to find out what’s on in their area via their local council website or by searching online. Information about the programme can be found here.