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Devon leads £2 million bid to end holiday hunger

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A major operation is under way in Devon to combat holiday hunger for children this Christmas.

Devon County Council is leading the operation to organise networks of providers across the county.

They will use a £2 million Government grant to support vulnerable children and families in the most effective way.

Devon County Council leader John Hart said:

“We are going to receive just over £2 million from the Government and we now have the opportunity to do the right thing.”

Over the next few weeks a range of community kitchens, holiday clubs, charities and local businesses will be enlisted to coordinate help and support for those who need it the most in every district in Devon.

They will ensure that every child entitled to Free School Meals will be able to get free food over the Christmas holiday, during the Easter half-term and the Easter holidays.

Devon’s Cabinet member for communities, Roger Croad, said:

“We need to act quickly to ensure that no child goes hungry this Christmas.

“We envisage that in most areas there will be a range of solutions and options that are geared to meet the needs of their individual communities.

“These are likely to include holiday clubs providing food, cooking sessions, community meals, offers from local cafes and businesses and community larders.

“Our top priority is to ensure those in receipt of free school meals have enough to eat over the holidays. But we also want to help and support people with wider vulnerabilities.

“This is a further example of how ‘Team Devon’ and the county council will be supporting the development and funding of arrangements from across the voluntary and community sectors. We’ll be working closely  with local councils – including our towns and parishes – and this builds on the amazing Devon response we’ve seen in supporting people and communities this year.”

Devon County Council leader John Hart said:

“This pandemic has been so cruel to so many people. We are aiming to support those families who were suddenly left without money, without a job and without savings as a result of coronavirus.

“This partnership of local organisations tailoring support to the local needs of their communities coupled with the Devon-wide organisation of the county council seems a really good way forward.

“I believe it will be an effective and practical way of combating holiday hunger and I want to thank all of the groups that will be working with us.”

The latest statistics show that 14,774 children in Devon are registered for free school meals – 15 per cent of the total school population.

More information about financial and food support for families and individuals in Devon is available on the Devon County Council website.