Volunteers Dish Up Success at Holiday Lunch Project
This Summer holiday volunteers helped Food Portsmouth serve up free lunches at 6 Adventure Playground sites across Portsmouth. Running for the whole 6-week school break, this pilot project ensured that children at the play sites could eat a filling hot lunch to fuel their day.
Work to address the 170-day gap in free school meal provision during the summer is taking place across the UK, labelled ‘Filling the Holiday Gap’. This is the first time a coordinated effort has run in Portsmouth.
Free school meals during term-time provide essential support to low-income families, helping relieve financial burden, maintaining health and wellbeing, and combating social exclusion. However, when schools are closed, so are the kitchens. With this in mind, Food Portsmouth worked with Portsmouth City Council’s Adventure Playground sites – situated in the most deprived areas of the city – to begin addressing what happens at lunchtime outside of the school term.
The city-wide pilot ran for 6 weeks, supported by Adventure Playground staff, volunteers to make and serve the meals, and food donated by foodbanks and FoodCycle Portsmouth. Serving an average of over 100 children a week, this totals a whopping 600 meals served for free to children, helping ensure that every child has the right fuel to power their play for the rest of the day.
Megan Saunders, who heads up Food Portsmouth and led on the pilot project said: “It is wonderful to see children of all ages sitting together to eat lunch, enjoying fresh fruit, and socialising over food. The project has been a great success this summer due to the hard work and support from all those involved – it’s a great demonstration of the power of partnership working. The pilot will now be evaluated to assess its impact on those involved, and to inform how Food Portsmouth can develop this project for future school holidays.”
Information collected during this citywide pilot project will now be evaluated, and we'll highlight the findings in a future blog post!