Today’s guest blog on ‘holiday hunger’ comes from my Cabinet Lead for Education and Skills, Anna Keen.
Our schools broke up for the summer this week, and while children and staff are ready for a break, as a mum I know that facing a long stretch of unstructured time can be challenging for a number of reasons. We all know that children are expensive and filling their days with activities can be a huge pressure on families.
Just over a year ago, we formed ‘Feeding Bristol’. This collaborative charity is striving for a city where no-one goes hungry. We work on a range of projects, from cooking and nutrition, to growing local food and even raising awareness towards key political issues surrounding food poverty. However, one key priority that has emerged with the greatest urgency is the critical need to address the issue of ‘holiday hunger’. Many of our children in Bristol receive a free school meal Monday to Friday during term time, but there is currently no such provision over holidays, meaning that our children and young people are at risk of holiday hunger.
One of the ways we are addressing this is through holiday clubs. There are a number of initiatives happening across Bristol to provide free activities for children and we have ensured that food is provided as part of this offer. These include Fit and Fed, which operates in parks across Bristol, Unique Voice, who run creative courses over the summer, and Break Free, a programme run by Youth Moves in secondary schools across South Bristol, which reaches some of our most deprived communities.
As well as being the Cabinet Lead for Education, I am also a teacher. Like many teachers, I know first-hand how long it can take for my pupils to get back into the mindset of learning in September each year. Since being involved in Feeding Bristol, I have begun to question whether, for some children, there is a link between their ability to learn after the summer break and whether or not they may have had insufficient nutrition over the holidays.
Education is about the whole child being ready and able to learn, and food poverty is an issue that impacts massively on the ability of our schools to deliver this.
For more information or to get involved with Feeding Bristol, please see our website: https://www.feedingbritain.org/bristol