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What you need to know about the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme

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The Holiday Activity and Food Programme (HAF) has been supporting children and families in the school holidays since 2018 and was significantly expanded in light of the pandemic last year. Here is everything you need to know about the programme and how it could help you. 

What is the Holiday Activity and Food programme?

Since 2018, the HAF programme has been providing healthy food and enriching activities to disadvantaged children through local councils. This year up to £220 million is available to councils across the country.

The programme operated over Easter and will continue through summer and Christmas in 2021.

Why is it so important?

School holidays can be a particularly difficult time for some families due to increased food and childcare costs and reduced incomes. It can mean that families struggle to provide food and activities for children.

Good nutrition is essential to children’s health, development and their ability to fulfil their potential in life. This funding helps ensure that children have access to healthy food and enriching activities throughout the school holidays.

Through the programme, we also want children to be more active during the school holidays and not become socially isolated.

Families who take part in the programme will also be able to develop their understanding of nutrition and food budgeting by having access to information and support.

How does the programme work?

It's funded by Government and run by councils then delivered through holiday clubs.

Some councils may coordinate the clubs themselves, and others may choose to work with another organisation to provide clubs on their behalf.

Clubs will offer engaging and enriching activities such as arts, sports, drama, and music which provide opportunities to develop and strengthen skills or knowledge.

Activities on offer can also include trips and other valuable learning experiences. Clubs must also provide healthy free meals, nutritional education, and physical activities on a daily basis.

This programme builds on our previous successful pilots: In 2020, it operated across 17 local authorities, supporting around 50,000 children.

Who can benefit from the programme and how can I get involved?

HAF is available for children who receive benefits-related free school meals.

We also encourage councils to make the holiday clubs available to any children not eligible for and in receipt of free school meals, who can pay to attend.

We want all children who attend the programme to benefit from:

  • Enriching Activities – learning new things and having fun.
  • Good food – eating a tasty and nutritious meal and learning more about food and nutrition.
  • Meeting people – socialising and enjoying being with friends.

For information on how you and your family can get involved, please contact your councils.

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