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Feature - issue #3

Kitchen Social

Children in London, England, describe how access to food through holiday provision can affect nutritional and social wellbeing.

This is an extract from Food For Thought. To read the full article click here.

For the 13 weeks of school holidays each year, UK families face the pressures that come with meeting the social and nutritional needs of children that are met by schools in term time. Dubbed ‘holiday hunger’, the likelihood of families suffering food insecurity increases when term time ends. As free school meal entitlement ends at the school gate, there is a shift in responsibility from the state to the household.

There is a stigma attached both to parents who are unable to feed their children, and to young people whose needs are different to many of their peers. Part campaign, part delivery program, Kitchen Social provides healthy meals and facilitates children’s social development in the holidays. In stark contrast to food banks - charities that distribute food to people in need - that often require recipients to ‘justify’ their receipt of food aid, any young people from the area around a Kitchen Social hub can attend. The upshot of this is that attendees rarely see holiday provision as a source of stigma even though most recognise that food provision is an important reason for being there, with one boy dryly remarking:

“Why else do you think I’d come?” Lunches at many of Kitchen Social’s sites are cooked from scratch each day and the food reflects the diversity of young people that attend. From West Indian dumplings to vegetarian patties, those hubs with well-equipped kitchens see that young participants help with preparation. It’s not unusual for children to dictate the menu according to the ingredients available that day. This was a welcome change for one 10 year old attendee in Lambeth, south London, who described it as “food food“.

‘It’s nice to know there’s a space where you can have a say in how things go, that could be the lunch menu or it could mean being creative.’

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