Derby City Council and Derby Homes have been working closely with a number of community and voluntary sector organisations to coordinate and deliver free meals and activities for young people at a number of venues across Derby during the summer holidays.

The issue of “holiday hunger” is an increasingly familiar one with charities reporting that pressure on food banks increases during the school holidays.  The school holidays can also put a huge financial strain on families who rely on free school meals during term time.

The summer lunch activity clubs aim to expand on the introduction of breakfast clubs within a number of the schools. The project is being supported by The Hope Centre who is providing food vouchers for the community groups to issue to families who require additional support during the holiday period.

The clubs vary across the city, with differences in the food ranging from snacks and sandwiches in some clubs, to sit down hot meals in others. Some clubs also have resources and training to provide professional sports coaching, while others rely on volunteers to come up with free activities to entertain and inspire children.

Cabinet Members for Neighbourhoods and Streetpride, Councillor Jonathan Smale, said

“Holiday hunger pushes many families into food poverty and insecurity. We believe children deserve the best start in life. Childhood hunger shouldn’t be allowed to have a damaging impact on their health, attainment and opportunity. Lack of adequate nutrition impacts children’s development. It is great to see local voluntary sector organisations coming together to ‘fill the gap’. Determined partnership working between these organisations with support from Derby City Council and Derby Homes has resulted in provision across the city, enabling those needing to access these services to be in a position to do so locally.”

Councillor Sarah Russell who was instrumental in establishing the Breakfast Clubs scheme added

“Child poverty is on the rise more and more children across our city are going hungry.  That’s why I’m delighted to see so many partners in our city setting up clubs during school breaks to make sure that young people avoid holiday hunger.  Too often children’s only hot meal of the day is at school and when that safety net isn’t there, there is a real risk to our children’s health.  These clubs will provide safe environments for children to eat, play and learn in.”