For children from low-income households, the school holidays can be a difficult time.
With no free school meals or teacher support, hunger and social isolation are a reality for many young Londoners. Teachers report malnourished children returning to school after the holidays having fallen behind compared to their peers. Many young people will never claw back this learning and health disadvantage to fulfil their potential.
Research tells us that families and the communities are affected too. Some parents are skipping meals to feed their children and increased household fuel and food bills cause stress and uncertainty. This can lead to debt, poor diet and social isolation.
Kitchen Social gives children a safe place to go during the holidays where they can socialise and get a healthy meal. It’s about much more than just food. It looks at general mental and physical well-being and social integration. Additional benefits include learning about healthy eating, skills development, social inclusion, identification of children and young people in need and the development of staff, volunteers and local capacity. We aim to raise £2m to feed a minimum of 50,000 children across all 33 London boroughs by 2020 as well as campaigning alongside others to call for statutory responsibility to achieve the positive educational, social and health benefits that holiday food provision would bring all young Londoners.
Kitchen Social is also now a feature of the Mayor of London’s Food Strategy.
“I like coming to this club because it keeps me active. I like cooking and going outside to play football with my friends. If I wasn’t here, I’d be at home watching TV.”
Megan, 12 years old, Acton
“Kitchen Social will bring together community groups, boroughs, businesses, foundations, charities and individuals to ensure the city’s young people do not go hungry or feel alone over the school holidays. Crucially, it will also put mental and physical well-being and social integration at the heart of its work, ensuring young Londoners are equipped with the skills and good health they need to get ahead.”
Matthew Ryder, Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement
By the end of the 2017/18 academic year, we will have engaged 123 hubs across 24 boroughs and, on average, served 17,400 meals to 2,780 children and young people.