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Free meals for Suffolk youngsters this summer with £1m fund

PUBLISHED: 05:34 27 May 2019

Paul West said he was delighted to have secured the DfE funding for the Fit and Fed programme.  Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Paul West said he was delighted to have secured the DfE funding for the Fit and Fed programme. Picture: RACHEL EDGE

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Hundreds of Suffolk families will be boosted by free meals for their children this summer, after the government pledged £1million for the county.

Nadhim Zahawi, a minister in the Department for Education, said it would provide children with a healthy meal. Picture: DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION/LEE GODDARDNadhim Zahawi, a minister in the Department for Education, said it would provide children with a healthy meal. Picture: DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION/LEE GODDARD

The Department for Education announced a £9.1m fund for 11 areas across the country to deliver free meals during the six week summer holidays, to help ease the pressure on low income families.

Suffolk County Council had already run the Fit and Fed campaign touring around three Ipswich schools last summer, and during Thursday's Suffolk County Council meeting, Ipswich and communities cabinet member Paul West confirmed a £1m pot had been made available to Suffolk this year.

"It's fantastic that we have been successful in our bid for a holiday activities project from the Department for Education," he said.

"The summer can often be a challenging time for families as they try to find activities to keep children occupied, happy and healthy.

Hundreds of families could benefit from school meals this summer after a £1million Government funding boost for Suffolk Picture:  Lucy TaylorHundreds of families could benefit from school meals this summer after a £1million Government funding boost for Suffolk Picture: Lucy Taylor

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"Evidence suggests that attending out-of-school activities can have a positive impact on children's educational, health and well-being outcomes."

With the successful bid, the council has confirmed it will be able to offer the meals to areas outside of Ipswich, although it is not yet clear which areas the programme will run in.

It enlists the helps of volunteers and community organisations to provide a healthy meal alongside activities such as football, games and cooking to hundreds of youngsters.

Nadhim Zahawi, minister for children and families said: "School holidays should be a chance for children to have fun experiences and make lasting memories - and no child should miss out on that.

"These clubs will ensure children get a nutritious meal - but they will also offer the chance to socialise with friends and take part in activities such as sports and healthy cooking classes, to keep pupils active and involved in their communities throughout the six-week break from school."

Figures published by the charity End Child Poverty for this year revealed that 50,000 children in Suffolk alone were living in poverty.

It is expected that the programme will help support those families in the county's most deprived areas, to help those families which need support the most.

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