For many children, the school dining hall may be the only place they get a hot meal all day. Research1 has shown with the loss of free school meals given out during term time, families already struggling with low incomes can find it difficult to feed their children during the long summer break.
Children aged between 7 -12 years old, who have been eligible for free school meals during the school year, will have the opportunity to attend the free Fit, Fed & Read sessions, where they will be served a nutritionally balanced lunch, freshly cooked by HCL each day. On the specially devised menu, every child on the programme can look forward to lunchtime favourites such as Roast Chicken with Sage & Onion stuffing and Roast Potatoes served with extra helpings of healthy, locally sourced vegetables and Fish Fingers with Potato Wedges along with some delightful, reduced sugar desserts; Chocolate Brick Wall with Gooey Chocolate Sauce or a seasonal Fresh Fruit Salad served with Ice Cream.
In addition to lunch, HCL nutritionists will run 2-hour interactive sessions, where the children will learn about healthy eating choices and get the chance to see, feel and taste exotic fruits and vegetables - some of which many may not have seen before. To round off the learning experience, the children will use the exotic fruits to make their very own smoothies, using pedal power on specially adapted smoothie-making bicycles.
Stuart Clarke, Head of Operations at HCL said: “It’s been a great joint effort to deliver the Fit, Fed and Read programme. It’s the second summer the initiative has returned to Hertfordshire, coming from the successful pilot launch last year and a two-week Easter programme in April this year . The children that attend the programme come from a disadvantaged background, and for some children this may be their only hot meal for the day, so it’s important we continue providing lunches throughout the school holidays and encourage nutritious, balanced diets. We hope the workshops are nurturing experience for the children that will have a lasting effect beyond the school holidays.”
In 2018, a total of 149 children attended 6 Fit, Fed & Read summer pilot programmes over four weeks. With a total of 1,153 attendances, where all children received a hot, tasty and nutritious lunch, again provided by HCL. This year, HCL is set to prepare, cook and serve over 200 hot meals a day, for 4 days a week across each of the 10 Fire Stations taking part until August 22nd 2019 - a logistical challenge HCL is effectively geared up for!
Hertfordshire’s variation of Fit, Fed and Read is a collaboration between Herts Sports Partnership, Hertfordshire Catering Limited (HCL), the Library Service, the Fire & Rescue Service, University of Hertfordshire and Families First.