An internal evaluation was undertaken to assess the effectiveness of this pilot, and inform future policy and delivery decisions to address holiday hunger in the short-term.
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Feeding children over the school holidays, when breakfast clubs and free school meals are not available is a challenge for some families. In 2019-20 the Welsh Government allocated £100,000 to test the feasibility of tackling holiday hunger through play and community based settings.
The pilot facilitated the provision of more than 13,000 meals across 98 sites, during the Summer and October half term holidays. Nearly half of children that completed surveys at the settings said they felt less hungry attending the pilot. Over half said they tried new foods, and nearly one in four children said they ate more fruit and vegetables. A third of parents of children attending the pilot that were surveyed said the pilot had helped with costs, and specifically with the cost of food during the holidays. The evaluation identified additional benefits of the pilot too, such as children drinking more water, exercising more, trying new activities, and having fun.
Funding the addition, extension or improvement of food at existing playwork provision to children at risk of holiday hunger appears to be a cost effective approach to tackling holiday hunger. The approach appears to complement other approaches, including the School Holiday Enrichment Programme.
The Welsh Government has allocated £1m in 2020-2021 to this scheme and learning form the pilot will be used to inform planning.
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