The community project, Chomp, is back to fight holiday hunger and boredom over the long summer break.
Chomp has started its summer programme of lunch and activity clubs for low-income families across Brighton and Hove.
Children are given a free fresh and nutritious meal as well as craft activities and space to play with games and toys.
Chomp project lead Vanessa O’Shea said: “The amount of kids that are registered for free school meals has shot up in Brighton and Hove … by 20 per cent in the last three years.
“It’s not only the cost of living but covid and world events that are making it increasingly difficult for families to be able to afford all the costs they have.
“So there’s ever-growing need for free activities and lunch clubs for families that are struggling.
“We want to provide a culture which is very welcoming, which takes any embarrassment or shame out of coming forward if you’re struggling and which provides an environment where families can have really good healthy nutritious fresh meals.
“It’s much more than just providing a free meal. It’s also about providing fun and community.”
About 12 families went along to St Cuthman’s Church, in Whitehawk, last Wednesday (3 August).
A team of Chomp staff and volunteers helped with crafts and food preparation while parents were able to chat with an energy bill saving expert from Brighton and Hove Energy Services Co-op.
One mum from Whitehawk Chomp said: “It’s so good to be able to just get out of the flat and have something planned where you know the kids will be able to have space to play.
“It’s so good to get to talk to other adults and most of our kids all go to school together so it’s good for them too.”
The sessions run in eight different locations around Brighton and Hove.
Chomp also fund partnerships with independent meal club projects run by other organisations and run other activities during term-time.
The environment is focused on fun for low-income families but also gives some respite to those struggling over the holidays.
The sessions are part-funded by the government’s Holidays and Activities Food Programme and are free for those who go along, although they do need to book so there is plenty of food.
During term-time, Chomp and their partners also host cookery clubs, day trips, running clubs and after-school clubs.
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