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  1. ITV Report

Help for families trying to make it through the holidays

The Big Summer Food Tour is providing families with free food and fun over the holidays Credit: ITV News

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.

346,035
Schoolchildren across the West Country rely on free school meals
37,803
Pupils in Plymouth have free school meals

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 and welcomed the fun and free lunch event Credit: ITV News

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 we're actually seeing across the country is what's been termed as holiday hunger. Recognising that children and families who would benefit from free school meals throughout the school year, suddenly on the 25 July, get sent home and potentially struggle to eat three meals away until they come back in September.

It's just recognising that and trying to help families throughout the summer period. We've chosen to call it Ed's Summer Food Tour rather than actually label it as people who are in need and just inviting children and families to come along and take a free, healthy, freshly prepared packed lunch.

– Brad Pearce, Managing Director, Catered
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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.