A new scheme is to be rolled out across South Tyneside to make sure children don't go hungry in the school summer holidays.
The Council is to provide free meals at centres across the Borough for three days during the middle four weeks of the long school holidays to ease the pressure on struggling families.
The Council already supports voluntary organisations which supply holiday meals through training and the loan of kitchen equipment. This scheme will further enhance the provision and complement the work of the third sector.
Food will be provided in children's centres and other venues where there is space for children's activities to be enjoyed. There will a mix of picnic - style food and hot food available depending on the day.
The meals will be provided at the following venues: Biddick Children's Centre, Horsley Hill Children's Centre, Boldon Children's Centre, Whitburn Children's Centre, Marine Park Children's Centre, Riverside Children's Centre Simonside Climbing Wall, Hedworthfield CA and Jarrow Focus.
Councillor Moira Smith, Lead Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: "Since Universal Credit was introduced and the eligibility for free school meals changed, it is difficult to really know how many families are struggling to put food on the table.
"However, we know from the work that we do with families and with schools that there are many working parents who cannot access certain benefits who are often the most financially vulnerable. These people - along with the almost a quarter of families on free school meals - struggle with the costs of good food and activities when schools are closed."
She added: "We recognise that our voluntary sector does a sterling job for those families living in hardship all year round but very often our food banks become increasingly stretched for supplies over the summer school holidays. This scheme is about complementing the fantastic work that staff in food banks and other voluntary organisations do all year round so that all our young people get the best start in life."
The scheme is in addition to the work of a number of voluntary organisations in the Borough, the most established being projects provided by:
- Hebburn Helps
- Grange road Baptist Church Jarrow and
- St marks and St Cuthbert's in Cleadon Park
Ongoing evaluation of the scheme will be carried out to assess need and ensure the scheme runs effectively.
Further information about the scheme will be available at www.southtyneside.gov.uk/holidaymeals