Do your FSM parents know about the Holiday Activities and Food Programme?

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Summer fun: Marcus Rashford is urging parents to sign up for this summer’s Holiday Activities and Food Programme (image: supplied)

Footballer turned school food campaigner Marcus Rashford is urging parents to sign up for the funded Holiday Activities and Food Programme this summer.

The £220m holiday club programme offers “fun and food” for children and young people in England during the school holidays. Places are free to those who receive free school meals (FSMs), but students of all ages and backgrounds are welcome.

Mr Rashford stars in a new promotional film in which he urges families to consider using the programme, which is also being supported by the Child Food Poverty Taskforce.

The government-funded holiday programme is targeted at those children and young people most affected by the pandemic, offering a “safe and supportive environment where they can learn, be active and eat well, as well as make new friends locally”.

It comes as new data published by the Food Foundation, which is a member of the Child Food Poverty Taskforce, shows that 30 per cent of more than 2,000 parents surveyed are worried about feeding their children over the summer holidays. This figure rises to 49 per cent among parents with children aged eight to 16 on FSMs.

The data also shows that only 24 per cent of parents with school-aged children have heard of the Holiday Activities and Food programme, rising to 43 per cent of parents with children on FSMs.

Fun and Food: Marcus Rashford stars in a new film in which he urges parents to sign up for this summer’s Holiday Activities and Food Programme. The film was produced by Yada Yada Productions and supported by thefoodpeople and FixOurFood.

Activities at the clubs this summer will range from kung fu to cooking and bushcraft. Plans are in place to run the holiday clubs this Christmas as well.

A pilot programme last summer supported around 50,000 children across 17 local authorities.

Featured in the video is CATCH Leeds, which runs a Holiday Activities and Food programme in Harehills, an inner-city area which is among the 10 per cent most deprived areas of the country.

CATCH has developed a holiday programme that appeals to teenagers as well as younger children. Activities include games, sports and arts and craft activities as well as designing and building poly-tunnels to grow food, which will then be part of the holiday lunches. Young people will also be involved in looking after the goats and chickens on their educational farm.

Mr Rashford’s campaign last year led to the government backing down over its decision not to provide FSMs during school holidays at the height of the pandemic. He has since vowed to continue campaigning for an expansion of FSMs to cover all under-16s from families on Universal Credit. If achieved, this could support an additional 1.5 million children from disadvantaged families.

Mr Rashford said: “I know only too well that the holidays can be a really difficult time for families who are struggling. It’s such a weight off their shoulders to know that there is a safe space for their children to go, where their minds can be stimulated, and where they are guaranteed at least one meal a day.”

Anna Taylor, CEO of the Food Foundation, added: “The pandemic has hit the most vulnerable and disadvantaged the hardest, with food poverty at the heart of the difficulties for many families. It’s absolutely crucial that we are supporting our young people so that they can overcome these challenges and thrive.”

  • For details of the Holiday Activities and Food Programme and to sign up, visit
  • Programme providers can find a range of supportive resources and materials via

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