Provision of ‘sufficient’ children’s centres is a statutory duty for local authorities. This is critical as children’s centres provide a one-stop-shop for a range of community health services, parenting and family support, plus links to training and employment opportunities, for families with children under five. A six-year evaluation found that attending centres improved children’s personal, social and emotional development, and school readiness. The same report also showed that adults benefited from improved parenting skills and greater knowledge of child development, as well as receiving help with personal needs. Leading from this it can be seen that they can, therefore, play a vital role in supporting families at risk of food poverty.

What can councils do?

  1. Continue to protect funding for children’s centres and the number of children’s centres
  2. Make maximum use of children’s centres to address food poverty supporting Healthy Start, healthy cooking on a budget, income maximisation, or debt and employment advice.
  3. Consider how children’s centres can play a role in increasing access to fresh fruit and vegetables, for example through stalls or coops.

Food Poverty: Over 8 million people in the UK struggle to get enough to eat. Sustain is working with communities, third-sector organisations, local authorities and government, aiming to make sure everyone can eat well.

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