The popular Food and Fun scheme is running in two Blaenau Gwent schools this summer, giving children and young people the opportunity to socialise; get active and enjoy healthy nutritious meals.
Food and Fun is a school-based programme funded by Welsh Government and co-ordinated by the Welsh Local Government Association. The schemes are then delivered locally by the Local Authority; school staff and a range of local partners and organisations to provide a fun social environment during the school summer holidays. Around 140 pupils are taking part in the scheme this year.
The Council’s Executive Member for People & Education, Councillor Sue Edmunds and Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Place & Environment, visited one of the schools, Willowtown Primary in Ebbw Vale, to see what it’s all about. They took part in bug hunting and arts and craft, whilst seeing and hearing everything the children have been getting up to.
Staff from the participating schools lead the programme, with full support from the Council for catering and cleaning. Children are provided with a healthy breakfast and lunch and nutritious snacks as part of the day.
The children are taught how to cook basic healthy meals, whilst learning about the nutritional benefits of eating healthier and being more physically active, in a setting that is familiar to the children allowing them to socially interact in a fun, relaxed atmosphere
A group of Ukrainian children, who have recently settled into the new welcome centre for refugees in Ebbw Vale, were also invited along to the Willowtown scheme, and with staff using a special app to communicate they have been able to take part in all of the activities.
Councillor Sue Edmunds, Executive Member for People & Education, says:
“I was delighted to visit the ‘Food and Fun’ at Willowtown today and see first-hand how the scheme is helping to keep children and young people happy, healthy and active during the summer break. The events of the past few years has seen a much greater emphasis placed on the physical and mental well-being of our pupils, and the undeniable link that this has to enhanced academic achievement and future prospects. Parents and siblings are also invited to attend once a week, which allows staff to engage with families to teach them new skills such as cooking, improving their own health and well-being and provide vital support for families during school holidays.
“As a Council, the well-being of people of all ages in Blaenau Gwent is a priority and will form a big part of our plans going forward. I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who has made this possible and I hope everyone has had a great time!”
Councillor Helen Cunningham, Executive Member Place & Environment added:
“The Food & Fun scheme is always very welcomed by families here in Blaenau Gwent, but I think this year especially so with the current cost of living crisis and the financial pressures of looking after children and keeping them entertained throughout the holidays. During the school holidays some families can struggle to afford or access food that provides a healthy balanced diet. Some children also experience social isolation and a lack of intellectual stimulation, which is usually provided by schools or family enrichment activities, and this may contribute to widening the attainment gap.
“There are many benefits for delivering Food and Fun in Blaenau Gwent and throughout Wales, the scheme encourages children to be more active over the summer, teaches children about making healthier choices with regards to food and drink, therefore improving children’s diets and well-being.”
The other school taking part in the scheme is Abertillery Learning Community. Activities this year have included Eco Educational; a variety of sports; Cooking Together lessons for all pupils and parents; Taekwondo; Drama; Arts and Dance.