Good things to eat and do
A key part of the Mayor of London’s Food Strategy, Kitchen Social is an initiative that coordinates and supports holiday food provision aimed at children and young people who are at risk of food insecurity and social isolation. The programme capitalises on the existing reach of local grass-roots organisations (‘holiday hubs’) to keep young Londoners engaged, safe and nourished when they are not attending school. These hubs are given funding and supported with training sessions to achieve a mandatory Quality Assurance Mark. A complementary toolkit is also available that includes recipes and guidance on a wide range of issues, from health and safety, to volunteer recruitment and safeguarding.
Kitchen Social delivers more than 50,000 meals to over 10,000 children and young people across 23 boroughs in London each year.
Our objective is to make holiday provision for young people in London high quality, inclusive and sustainable. To enable Kitchen Social to have the greatest impact, we need a coordinated approach with boroughs who are able to identify the children most at risk, select the right hubs, and ensure the programme is widely publicised.
Councils and Kitchen Social working together
During 2019, we worked with Camden Council and other partners to model a borough-level strategy towards holiday food insecurity. Together with Camden Council and Young Camden Foundation, we submitted a bid to a local funder to identify, train and support three hubs in three deprived wards. The bid was successful and the hubs, who had not provided food to their communities previously, were trained by Kitchen Social and Chartwells/Compass Group to deliver hot, nutritious meals. This partnership model of borough-level delivery will form the basis of our discussions with other local authorities across London.
We believe that the best way for this to happen is for each borough to allocate a champion who can either take a light touch approach by acting as ambassador and identifying hubs, or take on more involvement in the running of programmes, which some boroughs may prefer depending on their local strategy.
We know local authorities face major challenges from nationally and locally set priorities that, with regional variances, are likely to include agendas set around reducing obesity, child poverty, early intervention, troubled families, school performance (incl. attainment and achievement), and employment and skills targets – all with diminished funding available and no obvious solutions being presented; the Kitchen Social initiative keys in to all of these agenda points.
The programme evaluation by Northumbria University demonstrates that young people who attend holiday hubs eat a better diet than days when they are at home; show improved behaviour, develop positive social networks and are engaged in more positive, enriching activities than they would be otherwise.
Find out more about working with Kitchen Social to deliver holiday provision in your borough.