A PROGRAMME has been launched to ensure that some children don't go without food over the holidays.

A pilot project is being arranged for pupils at Middlesbrough's Abingdon Primary School & Children's Centre and the town's newly elected mayor has promised to invest in the initiative.

The school's head teacher aims to open its doors three times a week during the summer break to support families in the local community who may be struggling and need a little extra support with food and to offer sporting activities to ensure they are kept active.

The scheme, which already has the support of Feast of Fun which supports similar school holiday programmes across Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland, will target 60 children who need additional support.

Head teacher Adam Cooper said: "The project is about giving that extra bit of support to our families who may need it. There will be an opportunity to take part in a variety of sporting activities before sitting down together to eat a meal.

"We have been very fortunate to be supported in this initiative by Heather Black, Feast of Fun, who has been the driving force for the project."

The Mayor of Middlesbrough Andy Preston Mayor is appealing to other schools who would want to offer the same service over the summer to come forward.

He said: "Schools can be really powerful in the community when they have an inspirational head with a real will to do things and make fantastic things happen.

"Adam got in touch with us at the council and asked for a little bit of money to create a project for the summer to work with 60 kids getting them fit, happy, energised and making sure no-one goes hungry."

And the move has been welcomed by two of the region's MPs albeit with heavy hearts.

Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald said: “As a former long term Governor of the wonderful Abingdon Primary School, I very much welcome this initiative, but it breaks my heart that it's even necessary. The very fact ‘holiday hunger’ is part of our vocabulary now, is shameful.

“It's a sad indictment on the appalling handling of the economy of our country, where millions of our fellow citizens across the land have been plunged into poverty, and where the first concern of far too many teachers is whether their students have enough to eat."

Darlington MP Jenny Chapman added: "This kind of scheme has been run before in Darlington and t is really important that we support families who are struggling."