Sparked by footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign to extend free school meals over the holidays, the city’s business community has rallied to support struggling families, offering free meals to those in need.
And a partnership project which supports thousands of families and carers struggling to feed children out of term time is also set to run over school break.
The Healthy Holidays programme, run by Leeds Community Foundation in partnership with Leeds City Council and other organisations, provides children and families with access to meals and activities during the holidays.
Since April, the programme has provided just under 130,000 portions of food to children and their families, alongside online activities, face-to-face activities, and activity packs delivered to their homes.
The programme is aimed at helping to reduce the impact of holiday hunger and other pressures that families experience as well as providing increased opportunities and experiences for young people in the areas of greatest need.
Councillor Fiona Venner, Leeds City Council’s executive member for children and families, said: “No family should ever be faced with the worry and anxiety of not being able to provide for their children in the holidays, and we have always worked hard to ensure that every child who lives in poverty in Leeds can have access to healthy, nutritious food- alongside enriching activities- every holiday period.
“We are immensely proud of the work that is going on in Leeds, and all of the amazing individuals and organisations who are really making a difference.
Councillor Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s Deputy Leader and executive member for Communities, said: “We will continue to do all within our power to fight for the best for our children and young people. But the council’s current funding situation unfortunately does not mean we are in a position to feed every family who is hungry, or provide resources to the children who need them.
“That is why we welcome the incredible show of community spirit and compassion that we have seen from the city’s business community this week, and the support for Marcus Rashford’s impassioned and heart-felt campaign.”
If you are in a position to provide support to the Leeds Healthy Holiday programme – through resources or funding – please contact Leeds Community Foundation on: firstname.lastname@example.org