Essex County Council introduces Half Term Emergency Fund and extends Holiday Hunger programme
Essex County Council has pledged extra support for children and their families will be available this half term.
The Conservative-controlled authority is working with the Active Essex Foundation to extend its Holiday Hunger scheme, with 33 programmes available across the county and more than 1,000 children provided with free activities and food.
This scheme is an extension of the popular summer holidays activity programme which provided free childcare and a free meal for working families and saw 3,548 children take part.
The programme links with schools, food banks, churches, local authorities and the Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service to identify families who would benefit.
Intervention is being stepped up after the Government, backed by Essex Conservative MPs including Saffron Walden's Kemi Badenoch, last weekvoted down a Labour motion to extend free school meals to the half-term and Christmas holidays leading up to next Easter. Harlow's Robert Halfon was one of five Tory MPs who rebelled and voted with the opposition.
In addition to the Holiday Hunger programme, Essex County Council is launching the Half Term Emergency Fund, a new scheme for food banks and other organisations which provide food to communities.
Food banks will be able to apply for grants of up to £2,500 to help make sure they have enough supplies to cover the half-term holiday.
Cllr Louise McKinlay, ECC's cabinet member for children and families, said: "We are committed to making sure that no child in Essex goes hungry. I want to reach out to families to reassure them that there is support available with two key schemes for this half term.
"First, our Holiday Hunger programme is starting from Monday (Oct 28). It will benefit our children and their families who are most in need in our county, providing them with access to a hot meal, additional support as well as free activities.
"Second, we are also offering funding to food banks and other organisations that are a lifeline to many, especially during school holidays.
"These two areas of support, whilst focused on half term, are part of the continuing offer for families and I would like to reassure everyone that we are working to respond to the very real challenges faced by many Essex families at this time."
Eligible food banks and organisations can find out more information about the Half Term Emergency Fund and apply viahttp://www.ealc.gov.uk/home/ .