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Holiday hunger has become an acute issue for poorer families in the UK. For those who rely on Free School Meals (FSM) to provide healthy food for their families during term time, long stretches away from school can result in malnutrition as a result of relying on cheaper, unhealthy food or going without regular meals.
The issue is particularly severe in Wales, where the Welsh Assembly provides free breakfasts for disadvantaged students from less financially stable households. The country has one of highest rates of child poverty and obesity in the UK, alongside one of the lowest levels of academic attainment.
The scheme, branded 'Food and Fun' at a local level, runs as a joint initiative between Education Catering at Cardiff Council, Cardiff and Vale UHB, Public Health Wales, Sport Cardiff and Food Cardiff. Together the agencies and bodies offer a scheme of curriculum-based learning, healthy meals and sporting activity.
Each club operating under SHEP provides a kitchen manager and assistant, who help to provide nutritionally balanced meals to recipients. They run for three days of the week, across four weeks of the summer holiday during regular school hours, and are available to all KS2 students in underprivileged areas. Social services can refer families to the scheme.
SHEP was trialled in the Welsh capital in 2015, and ran as an extended pilot in 2016. It serves as the first example in the UK of a multidisciplinary response to the problem to incorporate healthy meals, nutrition skills, sports and other physical activities.
SHEP also creates a hub for social inclusion and maintaining education levels. Analysis has found the project has reduced the impact of childhood poverty, addressed unequal levels of learning loss between different socio-economic groups and provided better social outreach while allowing working families to continue supporting themselves.
The project tackles three policy issues identified by the public policy institute for Wales - food insecurity, the under-use of school facilities for community services, and the emotional wellbeing of children. The scheme responds directly to welfare reforms, benefit cuts and public service cuts, which have been handed to the council from central government and have risked exacerbating issues for poorer families who rely on the state.
The work, helped along by Welsh government funding, has set up a road map for other local authorities to follow and provides food, fitness and fun to children during the summer holiday gap.
What the judges said
"Cardiff's multi-faceted and considered approach to tackling holiday hunger was particularly impressive due to its ambition for a national impact and setting out a blueprint for others."
Hayley Miller, head of marketing, CH&Co
"Seriously brilliant initiative that is such a worthwhile cause and in particular the social community aspect, along with the activity and enjoyment for the children."
Mark Philpott, owner and managing director, Vacherin
"This entry demonstrated a holistic approach to community and enhanced social value - a brilliant piece of work."
Mike Hanson, head of sustainable business, Baxterstorey
Cardiff County Council
Fabulous Fan Fayre
Green & Fortune
2016 Bartlett Mitchell
2014 Compass Group UK & Ireland
2013 Sodexo UK & Ireland
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