Sponsored by Charlton House
Cardiff Council's education catering service provides 123 schools in Cardiff. In 2016, a multi-agency project with Food Cardiff, Vale UHB and Public Health Wales, saw the creation of an innovative and ground-breaking School Holiday Enrichment Programme (SHEP), a series of summer holiday lunch clubs for children in Wales.
There are 170 non-school days in the year when pupils cannot receive a free school meal, a gap that has become known as ‘holiday hunger'.
The remit of the SHEP initiative, submitted by Judith Gregory, senior client officer of Cardiff Council, is to provide an element of education, sporting activity and fun, along with good-quality, healthy meals, delivered in a safe, nurturing environment to help reduce the isolation and hunger experienced by families in the school holidays. The initiative was awarded £500,00 by the Welsh government.
During summer 2016 in Wales a total of 684 children attended a Food and Fun club, ranging in age from three to 14 years old. There was almost an equal split of boys and girls and engagement across all ethnic groups.
Additionally, there were 525 occurrences of a family member attending the clubs for lunch or other activities, and a total of 49 external organisations delivering additional educational sessions, such as how to cook food at home.
It costs the club just £30.71 per child per day, and it results in the children consuming a more balanced diet and participating in more exercise or physical activity than they would at home. For example, 67% of the children consumed more fruit and vegetables, 66% less sugary snacks and 81% less sugary and fizzy drinks on the day of the club than at home.
Equally as significant were the social and educational benefits, with 75% of the children reporting that they made new friends at the holiday clubs and parents and staff observing more positive attitudes to school among children attending the clubs.
The use of existing school facilities and staff for the holiday clubs is an added bonus, with one parent commenting: "Because it's in the school, you know the environment, you know the building, you know the teachers, they know where the toilets are, they know the canteen, they know the routine; so I think for them as children, they feel safe."
The Food and Fun club model is an innovative and cost-effective multi-agency model that could be implemented across a range of school sites and local authorities in the UK. This model can reduce the impact of poverty and social deprivation during the school holidays and addresses three major policy priorities: food insecurity, the underuse of school facilities to provide community-based services, and the emotional wellbeing of primary school children.
What the judges said
"The project met very clearly defined challenges, which has led to a broader approach to healthy eating and a template that could be used for other applications."
"The Food and Fun club is an innovative model that can be implemented across the whole education spectrum. It impacts effectively with more than just food nutrition, such as emotional wellbeing and social deprivation."
Artizian Catering Food Cardiff, Education Catering, Cardiff Council
Irene Forte, Rocco Forte Hotels
Gary Hunter, Westminster Kingsway College
Sue Kellie, The Association of UK Dietitians