Over half a million children enjoyed healthy eating and activities this summer – FE News

Hundreds of thousands of children from low-income families benefit from healthy diets and extracurricular activities, with programs helping to improve children’s educational outcomes by providing better nutrition and improving their well-being , their behavior and their social skills.

New data from Childcare Works shows nearly half a million children eligible for free school meals received nutritious meals, exercise, rewarding activities like music, sports or cooking classes and opportunities to improve their social skills during the summer vacation. The government’s Holiday Activity and Food Clubs (HAFs) have reached over 600,000 children and young people in England in total, and the councils are offering clubs for the first time this year during the Christmas holidays.

A study released today by Family Action and Magic Breakfast (Wednesday, December 22) shows strong evidence that breakfast clubs – organized in schools to provide free and healthy breakfasts to children in low-income families – had a positive impact on student behavior, education level and eating habits. To date, more than 1,200 schools have signed up to the new national school breakfast program, which will run from September to 2023, managed by Family Action.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said:

“Being healthy and active is a critical part of growth, and if we are to continue to improve opportunities for every child in the country, this must go hand in hand with a great education.

“I am truly encouraged to see the large number of children benefiting from our Holiday Activities and Food Program and the National School Breakfast Program. Both offer not only the benefits of a nutritious meal, but also the opportunity to participate in activities they might not have otherwise been exposed to, such as music, cooking or art classes.

“It’s great to see the latest evidence backing up what we’ve already seen firsthand in the lives of children. I am grateful to those who organize holiday clubs this Christmas, and I urge teachers and school staff to enroll in the National School Breakfast Program. “

The new report, released by Family Action and Magic Breakfast, which issued the government’s previous contract for the National School Breakfast Program between 2019 and 2021, found that of the 2,462 schools that hosted breakfast :

  • 94% feel better supported in their student’s behavior;
  • 95% found that the students present benefited from better eating habits;
  • 94% felt better supported in their level of education;
  • 94% felt better supported in matters of nutrition; and
  • 79% found better engagement with parents through program support.

Supported up to £ 24million over two years, the new Breakfast Club program, run by Family Action, builds on this positive impact it has already had on participating children and will seek to support 2 500 schools until 2023.

Family Action CEO David Holmes CBE said:

“A healthy breakfast can make all the difference for a child at the start of the school day. It is so much easier to focus and learn if your tummy is full. Despite all the challenges schools face as the pandemic continues, I am humbled that so many still find the time to apply for a place on the National School Breakfast Program. Already more than 1,200 schools have found the time to complete their registration process and register for the program.

“I urge any eligible school to enroll in the program as long as places remain available. Breakfast clubs offer immediate benefits in terms of increased attendance, reduced delays, and improved focus and behavior in class – and the National Program is here to help. Please join us while you still can. “

The new HAF delivery figures, released by the government’s national support partner Childcare Works, come as funding allocations for 2022 are distributed to every local authority in England for the government’s flagship HAF program, which will continue to benefit disadvantaged children over the next three years. , backed by more than £ 200million a year. Funding was announced by the Chancellor during the spending review and the program will run over Easter, summer and Christmas.

Parent feedback and advice on HAF over the summer includes:

  • Parents of children in Birmingham report less stress, with 73% saying their children were less likely to engage in antisocial behavior;
  • Parents from East Sussex praising the structure and outdoor activities their HAF provided;
  • North Yorkshire providers said children improved their self-confidence and social skills, becoming more “vocal and enthusiastic”; and
  • Lincolnshire kids say summer vacation was their “best” thanks to HAF.

Jamie Noble, Community Manager at Rotherham Community Sports Trust and HAF Provider, said:

“I am really delighted with the Christmas delivery of our program because, thanks to our summer and Easter arrangements, I have seen first-hand the incredible benefits that the HAF program can have for the children who attend. It was great news for everyone here at Rotherham United Community Sports Trust when we learned that the funding had been extended for the next three years, and I look forward to using everything we have learned so far. to make it the best edition yet. “

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