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Summer food scheme launched in city

Published on Thursday, July 20, 2017

MORE than 15,000 free meals are being handed out over the next six weeks to children and young people at play schemes, adventure playgrounds and youth centres across Leicester.

The free food is being provided in a scheme to help prevent children who receive free school meals during term time missing out on nutritious food during school holidays.

Leicester City Council is leading the scheme, working with the charity Action Homeless, and food wholesaler Brakes, to provide healthy food to children and teenagers aged five to 19 throughout the summer break. 

Food is being distributed through numerous venues which are running holiday activities in Braunstone, Eyres Monsell, Highfields, New Parks, Saffron and St Matthews.

Venues with facilities to make food are receiving funding to provide hundreds of extra meals, while places without food-preparation facilities are giving out pre-packed healthy lunches including fruit, sandwiches, yoghurt and a snack bar.

Among the venues taking part are the Highfields Adventure Playground and New Parks Adventure Playground.

New Parks Adventure Playground senior play worker Pat Roberts said: “We’ve asked for 100 packed lunches a day to give out this week, but next week could be even busier.

“We’ve realised for a long time that some children are coming in hungry, so this has been very well received. Children are coming in looking forward to having food. They’ve been saying: ‘these apples are really juicy!’ “.

Kevin Sherriff, the manager at Highfields Adventure Playground, added: “Some of the children coming here would usually eat takeaway food, but they are happy with the healthy options on offer.

“We’re very grateful for what the city council is doing in terms of this scheme.”

The city council has previously run schemes to provide nutritious food during holiday times. The latest scheme is planned to run for three successive years, and if it proves successful could be expanded to include more venues next summer.

Currently the scheme has secured over £20,000 of funding for three years, including £12,000 of city council Public Health funding and a contribution of nearly £9,000 from catering wholesalers Brakes. 

Leicester deputy city mayor Cllr Rory Palmer said: “It is important that children and young people who benefit from free school meals during term-time don’t miss out on nutritious food during the holidays.

“This scheme is aimed at the areas of the city where there is most need, and where we can work with venues running well-attended summer activities to make healthy food available.

“We’re extremely grateful to Brakes for joining us in this scheme, and we will watch closely to see whether it needs to be extended in future years to include more venues across the city where this help is needed.”