AROUND 17,000 meals would have been provided to children by the end of the summer holidays thanks to a Hampshire charity.

FareShare Southern Central, a regional branch of the UK’s biggest surplus food redistribution charity, is providing healthy and nutritious food to 22 holiday projects this summer and at least 3,455 children in Hampshire and Dorset will access meals at these projects each week.

The food provision comes as part of the charity’s ActiveAte campaign, which aims to raise awareness of children at risk of hunger when schools break up and the safety net of free school meals is removed.

Holiday projects receiving food also provide activities such as sport, drama and cooking lessons to ensure children are kept well fed and active – so that they return to school in September healthy and ready to learn.

Claire Martin, development manager at FareShare Southern Central, said: “For parents of children who normally receive free school meals, the summer can be a really difficult time - with the strain of added food costs, activities and childcare leaving many families struggling to provide food.

“ActiveAte is our campaign to address this issue across Hampshire and Dorset, and this summer’s figures demonstrate the glaring need for enhanced food provision in our communities over the summer.

“With the support of our food partners, we’re grateful we’re able to support more frontline holiday projects than before, but in order to ensure no child goes hungry, we are appealing to the public for donations.

"Just £7 can have a real, tangible impact - providing 28 meals for children at a holiday project.”

Around three million children at risk of going hungry over the school holidays, the ActiveAte campaign was launched to appeal to the public for donations during this time of additional activity.

For £7, donors can enable FareShare to provide 28 nutritious meals for children at a holiday project.