FAMILIES whose children are on free school meals will be supported over the summer holiday with free childcare and food costs under a £1m scheme set to be approved next week.

Bolton Council will pay the sum for a summer school scheme following the success of its Easter holiday activities and food (HAF) programme.

Children eligible for free school meals will, under proposals being ironed out, receive a free holiday place for four hours a day per four days, over four weeks in the long summer break.

The idea is to support children taking part to eat healthily and be more active during their free time, while aiding their personal development and help them achieve academically.

Cllr Anne Galloway, executive cabinet member for children's services, said: "Government funding of nearly £1.5million will enable Bolton Council to plan an ambitious programme of activities during the summer holidays which will be open to all children eligible for free school meals. 

"There will be a wide range of activities on offer, such as sports, the arts and food education and the council will be working with a number of different providers in communities across Bolton to offer many  positive experiences for children this summer."

The scheme will also run at Christmas, but it is only for earmarked for this year as part of Covid recovery plans.

All children eligible will be offered places, but they are not compulsory.

Town hall officials can use up to 15 per cent of the programme funding for those not in receipt of free school meals for vulnerable children. This could include those who are looked after.

Ideas include ‘family fun and food’ sessions across summer in  two major green flag parks.

These sessions will provide the opportunity to prepare, cook and consume meals as a family alongside positive activity. Chefs will cover food nutrition and budgeting whilst encouraging families to rethink their relationship with food.

The sessions will also signpost families and young people to a more localised HAF offer and will link to a finale as part of Bolton’s annual food and drink festival. The summer scheme will build on the Easter programme, which despite bad weather, saw 1,000 children involved.

Paul Rankin, deputy director of children's services, said in a report: "Activities will be varied and inclusive to meet the needs of young people.

"Access to good quality meals and food education will be the golden thread that runs throughout the provision. Activities will include sports, arts, drama, music, games and a plethora of experiential learning.

"Bolton’s approach will finish with a celebratory event linked to Bolton’s famous food and drink festival."

Young people will be give access to educational sessions at the festival.