Hampshire County Council urges parents and carers to sign up to get free school meals over Christmas holidays
PARENTS and carers whose children are eligible for benefits-related free school meals have been urged to sign up by Hampshire County Council.
The call has come so eligible youngsters do not miss out on free holiday and food scheme spaces. It comes after more than 10,000 Hampshire children benefited from free places during this year’s summer holiday – with 45,000 hot meals served and 75,000 four-hour sessions provided.
Children of all ages took part over the summer and enjoyed a wide range of activities, from dance and theatre workshops to sports and outdoor programmes.
Each day a child attended they were also provided with a meal. There were free spaces for children who receive benefits-related free school meals as well as paid-for places available.
Cllr Roz Chadd, HCC cabinet member for children’s services, said: "I am delighted that so many Hampshire children took part in these schemes over summer, and I hope many of them return for our Christmas holiday offer.
"School holidays can be difficult for some families because of reduced incomes and the added expense of food and childcare. It has also been especially challenging because of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Therefore, I urge parents and carers to make sure their children are signed up for free school meals if they qualify so they can access these schemes.
"I am confident that children feel more prepared for a return to the classroom after participating in these schemes.
"This is thanks to a diverse programme that enables children to socialise together, take part in enriching activities and eat a nutritious meal each day over the holidays. All things that might not have been possible for families facing hardship."
The Department for Education provides funding to local authorities – as part of its Holiday Activity and Food (HAF) programme, which coordinates schemes that offer healthy food and enriching activities to children eligible for free school meals during the 2021 school holidays.
Hampshire County Council works alongside its partnership to deliver a variety of clubs and activities through the connect4communities initiative, which covers four weeks in the summer and a week’s worth of provision in the 2021 Easter and Christmas holidays.
Parents and carers can sign up for free school meals online at cloudforedu.org.uk and find out what activities are offer in their area by searching the Family Information and Services Hub.