Children are being given free food at school holiday events to make sure kids from some of the poorer parts of Banbury are getting a hearty lunch every day.
Half term activity providers have signed a pledge to include nutritious lunches and healthy snacks at their events in Cherwell district as part of the Play:Full initiative.
Play:Full has supported 38 events so far, including four community meals and two play schemes, where 1,255 pieces of fruit, 630 wraps and 720 cereal bars were given out to children.
The scheme is ran by Sanctuary Housing in partnership with Brighter Futures, Cherwell District Council and other local youth groups.
Charlie Heritage, Sanctuary’s neighbourhood partnerships manager, said: “Whilst school holidays can be magical, for some parents, already tight budgets can be stretched.
“We wanted to offer a solution to this and support families to live happy and healthy lives, especially during times where there are lots of additional financial pressures.”
The ongoing project aims to ensure children are well-fed, along with physical activity and stimulation, at the times when they are not receiving their free school meals and lessons.
According to a local insight profile by Oxford City Council, 21 per cent of children are living in poverty in the Brighter Futures wards of Banbury, compared with 20 per cent across England.
Activities supported by the initiative have included Science Sensation workshops and an educational trip to Warriner Farm, organised by the Sunshine Centre, where the children prepared and cooked a stew from vegetables that they had picked.
Parents were impressed that their children had eaten food that they would not usually try at home, including mushroom stroganoff and chilli-con-carne.
Others simply expressed delight in getting out the house, doing something different and seeing the children burn off energy through physical exercise.
This project is part-funded by Sanctuary’s Community Investment Fund, supporting projects which benefit Sanctuary residents and their communities.