Smiling little girl playing outside

Dreading the expense of the school holidays?

Free food and activity schemes could be a lifesaver and keep down the expense of the school holidays

If we’re parents of kids who get free school meals during term time, we may be dreading the holidays.

We have to pay for extra meals, and that’s before we’ve even thought about the cost of outings, trips and treats.

But there’s a free scheme called the Holiday Activities with Food programme, which could help us out.

The programme offers kids a free meal, an hour of sport or activities and cooking lessons. It’s also a chance for youngsters to just hang out with friends and enjoy the holidays.

If our children get benefits-related free school meals, we should be entitled to a place in the programme.

They’re usually offered for four hours a day, four days a week, over either three or four weeks.

How to apply

In England the schemes are run by councils, so we should get in touch if we’re interested.

And there are often a smaller number of places on offer for children who don’t receive free school meals but who would benefit from taking part. It’s definitely worth asking if our child might qualify.

In Wales, a similar scheme is called Food and Fun. And in Scotland, we should ask about the Holiday Food and Childcare programme.

And if we’re entitled to free school meals during term time, we could get help in the holidays too.

In Scotland and qualify for free school means due to being on benefits, we could also get payments over the holidays. We should contact our council about this.

And elsewhere we could qualify for vouchers through the Household Support Fund. Again, our council should be able to help us with this.

Help with food

Elsewhere, supermarket Asda has stepped up with a special cafe offer for families.

From 3pm each day until 4 September, all adult meals are half-price. It means meals like fish and chips and chicken tikka masala are down to £3.25.

Its ‘Kids eat for £1’ deal is also being extended until the end of the year.

The kids’ menu has been tweaked so it’s healthier than before.

And Lidl is stepping up too. The supermarket chain is donating millions of meals to help families cope with the cost of summer.

The food will come from surplus stock and donations from shoppers. Lidl’s partner Neighbourly will distribute the meals.

Image: Bruna Saito / Pexels

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