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Thousands of children to benefit from free meals and activities this summer

Written by: Emma Lunn
The Government’s Holiday Activities and Food programme will support up to 50,000 disadvantaged children to help them to stay healthy and active over the summer.

The new programme will take place across 17 local authority areas and be provided by 10 co-ordinating organisations who will each receive a share of a £9m budget put aside for the scheme.

Activities will include a variety of online and directly delivered physical activities such as dance, yoga, HIIT, and adventure play.

Vicky Ford, minister for children and families, says: “It is more important than ever before to make sure the needs of the most disadvantaged are at the heart of everything we do. We cannot afford for any of our children to lose out of their education as a result of Covid-19.

“Just last week we announced the Covid Summer Food Fund, and a £1bn Covid catch-up fund so that no child is left behind.

“On top of this, we are rolling out the £9m Holiday Activities and Food programme in England, ensuring that thousands of children will be able to benefit from free nutritious food and enriching activities during the summer period.”

One of the organisations delivering the programme is StreetGames which works alongside Newcastle upon Tyne Council. Its Fit and Fed campaign has been developed to ensure summer programmes are delivered by trained staff to provide four hours of activity and a meal.

John Downes, StreetGames North East area director and head of youth and sport, says: “This year we hope to engage many children and their families across the city via mixed approach that will flex as social distancing changes.

“We will invest in local community organisations to provide support right to the front doors of children through activity packs, weekly activity programmes and food parcels to provide families with food over the summer holiday period. We will also be encouraging activities to take place in open spaces within the community for children and their families to reengage with each other as and when social distancing allows this to take place.”

The news comes the week after the Government bowed to pressure from footballer Marcus Rashford to continue providing food vouchers throughout the summer for children who normally have free school meals.

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