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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.

Here is everything you need to know about the programme and how it could help you and your child during school holidays.

What is the Holiday Activity and Food programme?

The HAF programme provides healthy food and enriching activities to children and young people, with free places available for those on free school meals during some of the school holidays.

The programme will kick off this year over the Easter holidays and will also run through the summer and Christmas school holidays in 2022. The scheme funded by the Government and delivered by local councils, and has been running since 2018, with an expansion to all local councils in England in 2021. This year over £200 million will again be made available to councils across the country.

This programme builds on our previous successful pilots: In 2020, it operated across 17 local authorities, supporting around 50,000 children. Last summer (2021) more than 600,000 children took up a free, government-funded place at a HAF club.

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 eligible children have access to healthy food and as well as fun, enriching activities to help keep them active throughout the school holidays.

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.

Most children who took part in HAF last summer (2021) reported overwhelming benefits on their physical activity, higher levels of participation in activities and increased social interaction with their peers. More than three-quarters (77%) of children surveyed also said that attending clubs increased their confidence.

How does the programme work?

HAF is funded by Government and run by councils who help deliver the holiday clubs.

Some councils may coordinate the clubs and others may to work with another organisation to provide clubs for children locally.

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.

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

HAF is primarily for children in primary or secondary school who receive benefits-related free school meals, though councils do have some flexibility to provide free access to other children.

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 and being active – eating a tasty and nutritious meal, learning more about food and nutrition and being physically active
  • Meeting people – socialising and enjoying being with friends.

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

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