A SCHEME to ensure children don't go hungry during the school summer holidays has been extended.

Hartlepool Borough Council has allocated £25,000 for the Filling The Holiday gap scheme, which is designed to replace the term-time free school meals received by many children.

The project provides funding to voluntary, community and public sector organisations and other charitable groups to help them ensure families they are working with don’t suffer acute food poverty during the school holidays.

The money will come from the Council’s Child and Family Poverty Initiative Reserve.

It has also allocated from the reserve £10,000 for a similar scheme over the Christmas 2018 school holidays and £10,000 for the Easter 2019 holidays.

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, leader of the council and chair of the finance and policy committee, said: “Families normally entitled to free school meals in the most deprived areas of Hartlepool can well become malnourished over the school holiday period, and children who are malnourished are clearly at a serious disadvantage when starting the challenges of the new school year in September.

“I am delighted therefore that, despite the financial pressures which the Council continues to face, we are once again making money available to help some of the most vulnerable families in our town.”

An additional £25,000, plus any underspend from previous schemes, will also be allocated for a summer 2019 scheme, subject to an evaluation of the outcomes of the three schemes being delivered during the current year.

During the Christmas 2017, 15 voluntary, community and public sector organisations received grants for the provision of healthy meals, snacks and food parcels for vulnerable children and families. In total, more than 3,070 meals, 981 snacks and 467 food parcels were supplied and over 900 children benefitted.

Organisations and groups interested in taking part in the scheme can find further details – including an application form – at www.hartlepool.gov.uk/FillingtheHolidayGap2018 alternatively, contact Steven Carter in the Council’s Health Improvement Team on 01429 523583.

The deadline for completed applications is 5pm on Wednesday July 18.