Now, with the summer holidays in full swing, some parents not only have to think up activities to keep their children out of trouble but to cope with the financial pressure of feeding them.
If you live in Plymouth, you're more likely to use the service than anywhere else - with nearly 38,000 signed up to the programme.
A new packed lunch scheme started in the city this week to help ease the strain for hundreds of local families during the holidays.
Tracey from Plymouth has seven children. As you can imagine feeding a family that size is difficult enough - her monthly shop can come to £400. She welcomed the Big Summer Food Tour at the city's Central Park - to have fun and a free lunch at the same time.
We asked her daughter Rhiannon what she had in her lunch bag.
Although this was a fun event with face painting too, there was a serious message. There are many children whose parents struggle with the long summer holiday in providing three square meals for them. This is a way of addressing that both by offering information about school meals in Plymouth and who is entitled to have them for free.
- What do people think of the idea?
The Big Summer Food Tour will be travelling around Plymouth twice a week until the end of the summer holidays, giving away 300 packed lunches a time.