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Loughborough University and StreetGames join forces to tackle school holiday hunger

Loughborough University academics are working with the national charity StreetGames to tackle the problem of school holiday hunger for children in the UK.

More than 15% of school age children attending state funded schools are eligible for and claim free school dinners. This is seen as an indicator of food poverty – defined as the inability to afford or to have access to food to make up a healthy diet.

There is growing evidence to suggest that many school children who rely on free school meals are left severely hungry and without a nutritionally balanced diet during the school holidays.

To try and tackle this problem StreetGames – a charity set up to make sport more widely available for disadvantaged young people – has been piloting a series of free meal schemes at summer sports clubs across the country, called the ‘Fit and Fed’ project.

This new initiative is aimed at offering children from poorer communities a fun and active summer holiday club, which also provides a free nutritious meal.

Loughborough University academic Clare Holley will now be assessing the impact of the summer clubs on children’s health and recommending to the charity what it can do to maximise these benefits and improve engagement with the communities they serve.

Dr Holley, from the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, said: “It is incredibly sad that in this day and age we still have families struggling to provide enough food with the right nutritional content for their children.   Not only is food poverty detrimental to children’s health, it also has serious implications for their educational future.

“At Loughborough University we want to be a part of the solution, working with StreetGames to assess the impact of their pilot scheme and help them role it out further to reach even more children.”

To carry out the evaluation Dr Holley has held a number of focus groups with pilot scheme leaders to find out what has worked well and what improvements can be made to ensure that the project is as successful as it can be.

Speaking about the pilot scheme Jane Ashworth, the Chief Executive of StreetGames said: “All over the country there are families that find it hard to make ends meet over the summer holidays. Their kids also need something positive to do and many join in the holiday programmes that are run by community organisations in the StreetGames network. It makes sense to help these community projects to provide lunch as well as sport.”

By the summer of 2017 StreetGames is aiming to have 250 clubs delivering 250,000 lunches to 7,500 children and young people as part of the ‘Fit and Fed’ project.

Loughborough University will continue to support the scheme by evaluating its success and offering expert guidance on how to improve the eating habits of those using the clubs.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: PR 16/144

Loughborough University is equipped with a live in-house broadcast unit via the Globelynx network. To arrange an interview with one of our experts please contact the press office on 01509 223491. Bookings can be made online via www.globelynx.com

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, putting it among the best universities in the world, and was named the best in the country for its student experience in the 2016 THE Student Experience Survey. Loughborough was ranked 4th in the Guardian University League Table 2017 and 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2017 and was also named Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017, and University of the Year in the What Uni Student Choice Awards 2015.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

In September 2015 the University opened an additional academic campus in London’s new innovation quarter. Loughborough University London, based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities.

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