Questions and answers

3 children mixing food in a red bowl and the word Holiday food and fun!

The government has expanded the holiday activities and food (HAF) programme across the whole of England.

Funds have been made available to every local authority in England to coordinate free holiday provision, including healthy food and enriching activities. The programme covers the Easter, summer and Christmas holidays.

Your questions answered

How to apply to become a provider

Please read the information in this Q&A and then complete the online Expression of Interest form. If you have any further queries please get in touch with the HAF team.

Is there flexibility on dates?

Yes, the dates for provision during the holidays will not be prescribed but will vary between organisations. Please put forward the dates that work best for you. We understand not all provision is available throughout all the holidays or indeed throughout the whole day and/or evening. As a local authority we have a duty to provide the 4 hours a day over 4 weeks in the Summer and 1 week at Easter and Christmas - covering this will be a collective effort across all our partners.

Food preparation and nutritional education is a potential weakness in the application, is that okay?

Yes, we realise not all partners will be able to facilitate food and/or healthy living initiatives. However, the holiday activities must provide some food in order to meet the aims and objectives of the HAF programme. Please note if you need this additional support on your application as we are keen to join partners together. We have had great success at both Easter and during the summer with matching activity providers with partners to deliver food so this should not stop you from submitting a funding bid for Christmas.

How will the areas be co-ordinated?

Using free school meal (FSM) data, we have produced data maps to show where the highest areas of need are. These are attached to the online expression of interest (EOI) which closed in November 2021.

If you would like copies sent to you please email the HAF team. The HAF team have worked with providers, schools and families to develop provision in areas of high need and more broadly across the county. If multiple expressions of interest were received for one area, we were open to revisiting them to either bring partners together that complement each other or explore whether any provision offered can be moved. If you have the mobility to spread more widely please indicate this on the application.

How will the number of participants for each partner be decided?

We welcome expressions of interest detailing how many participants you think you could reach, where and how; with the focus on the FSM children. We worked closely with providers at Easter and summer to develop provision to reach as many children, young people and families as possible.

Any more guidance on cost?

At this initial stage of the programme we are not setting out unit costs. We will of course have to consider this when allocating the funding to each partner, but given the range of provision we’ve funded it is not possible to give a specific price per head. For the application please put an estimate of the number of children you can reach and the cost. There will need to be wiggle room on this and we can investigate this further at the next stage after expressions of interest are received.

What is the age range?

The funding is for FSM eligible children aged 5 to 16.

Do the children have to participate for the whole 4 hours in a day?

As a local authority we have a duty to provide the 4 hours a day over 4 weeks in the Summer and 1 week at Easter and Christmas - this will be a collective effort across all our partners. So some may wish to offer shorter sessions throughout the day. It is up to us at East Sussex County Council to ensure the programme as a whole covers the 4 hours a day quota.

Regarding the 4 hours a day over 4 weeks in the Summer and 1 week at Easter and Christmas - does this mean you want the same children to attend for all of this time? Or that we need to have provision running 4 hours/4 days/6 weeks that different children can attend?

The aim of this programme is that participating children would be able to attend every session. However, we know that some will participate every day, and some may attend less frequently. And some eligible children will not attend at all of course, as it is completely optional.

Why don’t free places cover the whole school holidays?

We know that families face the greatest challenges in the longer holidays, particularly during the summer. The programme is designed to work in conjunction with the existing childcare offers across government. This includes the Universal Credit childcare scheme and Tax-Free Childcare. Eligible parents can top up their free hours using these other, existing childcare offers.

What are the expectations around the food offer?

We expect that the food will meet the school food standards, ensuring all children receive a healthy, balanced meal. There is no requirement for the meals to all be hot. However, it may be tricky to provide a good variety of food if sticking only to cold meals.

What are the nutritional education requirements?

Clubs must include an element of nutritional education each day aimed at improving the knowledge and awareness of health eating for children. These do not need to be formal learning activities and could, for examples, include activities such as getting children involved in food preparation and cooking, taste tests etc.

Clubs must also include at least weekly training and advice sessions for parents, carers or other family members, which provides advice on how to source, prepare and cook nutritious and low-cost food.

How do the families find out about what we are running?

We will be helping to promote the HAF provision as wide as possible with a particular focus on targeting FSM. However, providers will also need to use their networks to share the information, for example by contacting schools or promoting through their social media.

Where can I find out more about the process for potential providers?

We have a pre-recorded webinar available which guides potential providers through the funding process. It also covers the reporting requirements on HAF providers and covers the support available from ESCC.