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Last chance to sign up for holiday food scheme

Published on Thursday, December 1, 2022

2 minute read

Holiday activities

CHILDREN and young people in Leicester who receive benefit-related free school meals can sign up for a free programme of activities over the Christmas holidays – but they must register for the scheme by Sunday (4 December).

Starting on Saturday 17 December, the sessions will include activities such as art, sport, ice-skating and music – and each child taking part will receive a healthy meal as part of the session.

Most provision will run for four days, but children on programmes offering fewer than four days of activities will be given a food hamper to take home with them.

Funding for the scheme has come from the government’s Holiday Activities and Food programme (HAF), which wants to help children from low-income families be active and eat well over the Christmas break.

In Leicester, the activities – suitable for children aged from 4 to 16 – are being organised by around 40 providers at sites around the city.

Places, however, are limited and are allocated on a first come, first served basis to eligible families. The booking system will close this Sunday (4 December), so places should be booked as soon as possible.

Deputy city mayor Cllr Sarah Russell said: “This year, the government allocated £1.6m to Leicester to provide food and activities for children on free school meals during the Easter, summer and Christmas holidays.

“With many families finding it tough right now, any scheme that helps the household budget go a little bit further is to be welcomed.

“There’s a wide range of activities on offer at sites around the city during December, but places are limited so please register by Sunday, if you’d like your child to take part in the programme.”

Children whose chosen activity programme runs for fewer than four days will be given a food hamper to take home with them. The hamper is being put together by Leicester-based Samworth Brothers, who teamed up with the city council on its half-term food scheme back in October and is now supporting the holiday food scheme once again.

Adam King, Samworth Brothers’ Group Community Director, said: “We are proud to have another opportunity to work alongside the council to improve the lives of families within the local community in any way we can, especially at Christmas which we know can bring its own extra challenges.”

Information about the Holiday Activities & Food programme has been circulated to eligible families via schools ­– and all eligible families will have received a letter at home, including details of the offer and a unique HAF code for booking their sessions.

Families with children on benefit-related free school meals can register for a place on the Holiday Activities & Food programme at

The holiday programme runs from 17-23 December and from 27-30 December.

Cllr Sarah Russell said: “Almost 14,000 children and young people are eligible for free school meals in Leicester, so we’re pleased that government funding is available to support them during the longer school holidays until at least 2024.

“Knowing that the funding is in place allows us to build on the work that we’ve done so far and means we can help even more children and young people to have a better start in life.”

More information about the scheme is available at

Families who think their child might be entitled to benefits-related free school meals can find out more at