News Children's Food Campaign

Government urged to keep feeding children during school holidays

Over 50 charities, organisations and education unions have called on Education Secretary Gavin Williamson MP to announce additional funding for continued food provision during the forthcoming school half-term and summer holidays. 

Mandeville Primary School food boxes. Credit: Chefs in Schools

Mandeville Primary School food boxes. Credit: Chefs in Schools

In a joint letter to the Secretary of State Gavin Williamson MP and Schools Minister Vicky Ford MP, the organisations point to recent figures from the Food Foundation that show around 2 million children across the UK are directly experiencing some level of food insecurity or hunger. Before the crisis, 1.3 million children in England were eligible for benefit-related free school meals, however a further 1.4 million families have applied for Universal Credit since the start of the outbreak. 

Campaign Co-ordinator for the Children’s Food Campaign Barbara Crowther says,

“Hunger does not know the difference between term time and school holidays, and the Government’s support for families should be continuous through this crisis. Given the scale of food and income insecurity being experienced by so many families, it is critical that the Government makes national level funding available to cover all the school holidays until the start of the new academic year.”

The Welsh Government has already committed £33m additional funding to cover all holidays until the end of August, which is equivalent to holiday provision of £19.50 per week per child eligible for support. However in England, the Department for Education has so far only committed to £9m funding for pilot holiday food projects in a few selected areas, with successful funding bidders still to be announced. In the letter, the organisations say this is not enough and a national level holiday provision funding formula is now needed “at a level sufficient to expand provision of free school meals substitutes, and to the National School Breakfast Programme, to cover all holiday periods across the whole of England until end of August.” 

The Government did extend funding to allow the national school voucher programme for England to cover Easter holidays. The organisations are arguing that giving more advance notice for forthcoming holiday periods would allow schools, academy trusts and local authorities to make better plans with their relevant food and catering suppliers, or alternative voucher/cash support provision, with confidence that they will have the funds to deliver.


Join Us! If you would like to add your organisation’s name to the joint call on Government to fund holiday food provision, get in touch with

Updated list of signatories backing the call for holiday food provision

(as of 18 May 2020)

1. Barbara Crowther, Co-ordinator, Children’s Food Campaign 

2. Stephanie Wood, Founder/CEO, School Food Matters and Co-Chair School Food Plan Alliance 

3. Anna Taylor OBE, Executive Director, The Food Foundation 

4. Jeanette Orrey MBE, Co-Founder Food for Life & Co-Chair School Food Plan Alliance 

5. Rob Percival, Head of Policy, Food for Life/Soil Assocation

6. Naomi Duncan, Chief Executive, Chefs in Schools 

7. James Bielby, Chief Executive, Federation of Wholesale Distributors 

8. Kath Dalmeny, Chief Executive, Sustain 

9. Matthew Philpott, Executive Director, Health Equalities Group

10. Leigh Powell, National Officer, Education & Children's Services, UNISON 

11. Maria Bryant, Chair of Board of Trustees & Kath Roberts, Trustee, Association for the Study of Obesity 

12. Katharine Jenner, Campaign Director, Action on Sugar & Action on Salt 

13. James Toop, CEO, Biteback 2030 

14. Dr Helen Crawley, Director, First Steps Nutrition Trust 

15. Duncan Stephenson, Deputy CEO, RSPH 

16. Andrew Forsey, National Director, Feeding Britain 

17. Alysa Remtulla, Head of Policy & Campaigns, Magic Breakfast 

18. Dr. Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretaries of the National Education Union 

19. Kirsty McHugh, Chief Executive, Mayor’s Fund for London 

20. Sara Jayne Stanes, Chief Executive, Royal Academy of Culinary Arts' Adopt a School Trust  

21. Peter McGrath, Operations Director, Meals and More 

22. Daf Viney, Director of Services, Hackney Migrant Centre 

23. Nicola Dolton, Deputy Director Services & Innovation, Family Action

24. Tim Morfin, CEO, Transforming Lives for Good

25. Tom McIntosh, Operations Director, Sport Birmingham

26. Sarah Hickey, Programme Director - Child Obesity, Guys & St Thomas' Charity

27. Josef Davis-Coates, Co-Founder, United Diversity

28. Shane Holland, Executive Chairman, Slow Food in the UK

29. Tom Skinner, Director, Greater Manchester Poverty Action

30. Jonathan Pauling, Chief Executive, Alexandra Rose Charity

31. Elly Heaton-Virgo, Chief Executive Officer, Young Ealing Foundation

32. Mark Fishpool, Director, Middlesbrough Environment City

33. Clare Roberts, Poverty Truth Commission Co-ordinator, Cheshire West and Chester Council

34. Pascal Gerrard, Founder, Streetcube

35. Stephanie Ellis, Project Manager, The Welcome Network & trustee, Feeding Britain

36. Philip Barron, CEO, Young Westminster Foundation

37. Alan Proudler, Chair of Trustees, Middlesbrough Food Bank

38. Rod Munro, Team Leader, New Life Community Impact, Sleaford

39. Nigel Curry, co-Chair, Lincoln Food Partnership

40. Maurice di Rosso, Director, Feeding Bristol

41. Trewin Restorick, CEO, Hubbub

42. Caz Hattam, Co-ordinator, The Unity Project

43. Laurence Guinness, Chief Executive, The Childhood Trust

44. Hon. Baroness Frances d'Souza, Honorary President, Children First Alliance

45. Peter Grigg, CEO, Home Start UK

46. Rachel Hall, CEO, City Catering Southampton

47. Dr Sam Royston, Director of Policy & Research, The Children's Society

48. Nynke Brett, Opearations Manager, Made in Hackney

49. Andrew Jolly, Trustee, Birch Network, Birmingham

49. Mike Farley, FiSH Project, Lincoln

50. Clive Bower, Trustee, Waltham Forest Migrant Action

51. Keith Morgan, CEO, Young Camden Foundation


For more information:

Read the full original letter from 23 organisations to the Department for Education on Holiday Food Provision 

Find out what Sustain is doing to increase access to healthy, nutritious food for vulnerable children during the Covid-19 Emergency

Read the latest Government guidance on free school meals for children during COVID-19 in England





Published Wednesday 6 May 2020

Children's Food Campaign: Better food and food teaching for children in schools, and protection of children from junk food marketing are the aims of Sustain's high-profile Children's Food Campaign. We also want clear food labelling that can be understood by everyone, including children.

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