Council scheme to tackle child holiday hunger to continue

Published Wednesday, 11th July 2018

Hartlepool Borough Council is to continue a grants scheme to ensure that children across the town don’t go hungry during the school holidays.

The Filling The Holiday gap scheme is designed to replace the term-time free school meals received by many children.

It provides funding to voluntary, community and public sector organisations and other charitable groups to help them ensure families they are working with don’t suffer acute food poverty during the school holidays.

The Council’s Finance and Policy Committee has made £25,000 available for a Filling The Holiday Gap scheme over this year’s school summer holidays. The money will come from the Council’s Child and Family Poverty Initiative Reserve.

It has also allocated from the reserve £10,000 for a similar scheme over the Christmas 2018 school holidays and £10,000 for the Easter 2019 holidays.

Also, £25,000 plus any underspend from previous schemes will be allocated for a summer 2019 scheme, subject to an evaluation of the outcomes of the three schemes being delivered during the current year.

This follows on from the success of other schemes which ran during the summer 2016, summer and Christmas 2017 and Easter 2018 school holidays.

During the Christmas 2017 scheme, 15 voluntary, community and public sector organisations received grants for the provision of healthy meals, snacks and food parcels for vulnerable children and families - more than 3,070 meals, 981 snacks and 467 food parcels were supplied and over 900 children benefitted.

In order to maintain the future financial sustainability and cost-effectiveness of the initiative, groups receiving a Filling The Holiday Gap grant will also be required to register with the Hartlepool Food Network to use any surplus food from the network to complement their holiday provision schemes.

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, Leader of the Council and Chair of the Finance and Policy Committee, said: “Families normally entitled to free school meals in the most deprived areas of Hartlepool can well become malnourished over the school holiday period, and children who are malnourished are clearly at a serious disadvantage when starting the challenges of the new school year in September.

“I am delighted therefore that, despite the financial pressures which the Council continues to face, we are once again making money available to help some of the most vulnerable families in our town.”

Organisations and groups interested in taking part in the scheme can find further details – including an application form – by clicking here.

Alternatively, contact Steven Carter in the Council’s Health Improvement Team on 01429 523583.

The deadline for receipt of completed applications is 5pm on Wednesday 18th July.