Torbay Council commits over £200k to address child food poverty this Easter

At an urgent Cabinet meeting on Monday 1 March, we unanimously confirmed a £210,000 investment to address child food poverty in the upcoming Easter school holidays.                                                                                               

Over 7,000 local children who are identified as being in food poverty will benefit from receiving vouchers to the value of £15 (per child) for each week of the Easter holiday.

The investment made up of £100,000 funding from the government, with the remaining amount being committed by Torbay Council will ensure that as many families as possible won’t go hungry over the Easter holiday.

In addition children who receive benefits-related free school meals will also benefit from £560,000 worth of funding received as part of the governments Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) Programme, which provides free healthy food and enriching activities over the Easter, summer and Christmas school holidays in 2021.

The HAF Programme was first established in 2018 with the government trialling the scheme to a limited number of Local Authorities before significantly expanding the programme for 2021, allocating £220 million through grants to local authorities. The aim of the programme is to make free places available for children eligible for benefits-related free school meals for at least 4 hours a day, 4 days a week, 6 weeks a year.

Some of the restrictions and limitations around allocating and implementing the HAF Programme funding may mean that some Torbay families who are facing food poverty would not benefit from the support.

Councillors mandated further action needed to be taken to supplement food provision for children over the Easter holidays and agreed £210,000 to purchase food vouchers which will be issued to eligible families through council services, Early Years, Schools and Post 16 providers – focussing on all children in food poverty rather than those just eligible for benefits-related free school meals.

In addition the council will be looking to develop a Strategic Food Partnership and Food Action Plan for Torbay, which would take a collaborative approach to creating a more resilient local food system that goes beyond tackling food poverty over the school holidays.

Cllr Cordelia Law, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Torbay Council, said; “Whilst we welcome the governments Holiday Activities and Food Programme funding, it does not reach sufficient children and does not comprehensively address the issues faced by families in food poverty over the Easter holidays. As a council we are committed to tackling food poverty and recognise the need for a longer term solution, and are working with our Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise partners to develop and deliver a more resilient local food system for Torbay”.

Anyone suffering from food poverty are encouraged to contact the Community Helpline on 01803 446022 or complete this online form.

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