Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme: Summer success paves the way for healthy holiday fun this winter

After a successful summer of fun, healthy activities for children and young people, preparations are already underway for an even more exciting offer during the Christmas holidays.

In the school summer holidays, delivered as part of the Kent County Council-led Reconnect: Kent Children and Young People programme, more than 4,000 four to 16-year-olds enjoyed healthy, nutritious meals and a range of sports and other pursuits. The provision was funded by the national Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme, which allows local authorities to deliver these sessions to families whose children are eligible for benefits-related Free School Meals – for free – during the Easter, summer, and Christmas holidays.

Some locations in Kent offered horse riding, yoga, water sports, or other physical activities while others gave youngsters the opportunity to put on dance or drama performances. Participants tucked into tasty treats including homemade pizza and smoothies, roast dinners, and curries; some were introduced to fresh vegetables while others picked fruit and used it to make jam.

The application process for the Christmas holidays is now open – the closing date is Wednesday, November 17, 2021 – and KCC is confident the opportunities will be just as exciting and beneficial. The summer HAF programme in Kent benefited from £1,978,306.

Sue Chandler, Cabinet Member for Integrated Children’s Services, said: “Most children and young people look forward to the school holidays as they know they will spend their time relaxing and socialising with relatives and friends. However, for some families, the school holidays represent worrying times due to the additional food and childcare costs. I would encourage all eligible families to look at the holiday clubs available in their area and choose one their child will enjoy.”

As well as socialising, exercising, and enjoying the activities on offer, the children and young people who attend HAF sessions, and their families, are given the opportunity to learn about healthy food and nutrition. Programmes can offer cooking demonstrations, family cooking sessions and tips on how to create healthy meals, and on almost all occasions the children, young people, and sometimes their family members, all eat lunch together.

A significant number of the programmes had additional places available for children and young people who didn’t qualify under HAF criteria but whose families were able to pay for them to attend. A few also offered free or subsidised places to those not in receipt of Free School Meals but who were considered by KCC to be vulnerable or in need.

Some locations in Kent offered horse riding

Shellina Prendergast, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: “Not only are the HAF holiday clubs enjoyable and a chance to socialise with classmates, make new friends, and try something different, they are also hugely beneficial to children and young people’s health and physical and mental well-being.

“They will be encouraged to eat more healthily and be more active during the school holidays as well increasing their knowledge of health and nutrition, so these habits are more likely to continue during term-time. The engaging and enriching activities on offer aim to help the participants become more resilient, support them to achieve even more in school, and enhance their overall well-being.”

A total of 84 programmes were delivered in Kent over the summer by a range of partners including schools, sports-based organisations, holiday playschemes, charities, district and borough councils, football clubs, community organisations, and The Education People – a Local Authority Trading Company of KCC. Providers have already started signing up for the December HAF programme and details will be released closer to the time.

For more information about the application process and the Kent HAF programme visit or email

The Reconnect programme, launched by KCC in March and running until August 2022, is an ambitious community-based programme of activities, designed to help children and young people reconnect with their pre-COVID-19 lives.


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Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme: Summer success paves the way for healthy holiday fun this winter was last modified: October 14th, 2021 by Suz Elvey