Aims and Good Practice.



The Holiday Lunch programme in Cambridge City is about providing a series of free opportunities for families to come together during the school holidays where you can share a meal with other participants and where available be part of an activity alongside the lunch. The programme aims to support families on free school meals during holiday times , but is open to other families to attend too.

We aim to provide:

  • a welcoming and safe environment for all regardless of race, gender , sexuality , gender reassignment , disability ,age or faith.
  • Local opportunities/ activities for families to come together during the school holidays.
  • a quality meal for those attending.

What we ask of families attending:

  • children are accompanied by a responsible adult.
  • staff and volunteers and other users are treated with respect.


We ask organisations providing holiday lunches to have :

  • appropriate safeguarding procedures in place
  • a risk assessment and that all people providing the activity have been briefed and inducted.
  • an activity alongside the lunch where possible
  • food is prepared in line with food hygiene regulations and that at least one of the people preparing the food has had food hygiene training. That the needs of people with different requirements eg Vegetarian , gluten free and halal are taken into account where possible.
  • And organisations work in partnership to deliver the holiday lunch programme and encourage community engagement where possible.


Good Practice

We have put together a few simple pointers for others to be able to use as a template to develop meals in their own venue or area.


Cambridge Project

Funding the food for your project

Funding or finding the means to provide lunches is always a challenge. Finding suitable partners reduces costs considerably.

  1. The Trussel Trust food bank in Cambridge: May be able to offer support to organisations that wish to provide meals to people who are experiencing food poverty and be able to help you with non-perishable items. They require some statistical information from you to ensure that you are fulfilling their criteria in terms of needs.
  2. Local business: Supermarkets and independent retailers often have budgets, corporate policy, community involvement or an altruistic desire to serve the community. Talk to shop owners or supermarket managers to see how they can help. We had some success with fresh food donations and with some redeemable vouchers to spend as we wished.
  3. Donations: Church congregations, work organisations, local businesses; all can be approached to ask if individuals may wish to donate at collection points. You can prepare a list of suggested donations if you have a menu in mind.
  4. Allotment / Garden donations: If you have a local allotment society or local friendly vegetable growers, they may offer some of their glut to you if you ask.
  5. Cash: You will still need some. You may need to do a little fundraising or use existing funds you have access to. However, with good use of all of the above, you can keep costs to a minimum.

Finding staff for your project

Volunteers are the backbone of any project of this type. Ideally, we would hope to build capacity within the community to develop some of the early participants of the project into future volunteers.

There must be a person with suitable food hygiene certificates present to ensure that food safety is observed at all times. If you’re unsure, contact the environmental health team for more information. Call the customer services centre on  (01223) 457900 or email

We managed in the following ways.

  1. Church congregations. The Good Shepherd has an amazing group of volunteers from within the church who delivered all of the meals at the church.
  2. Staff time. In our community centres, we used the staff that would have been at work to cook, set up and clear up.
  3. Corporate volunteer time. Tesco staff were keen to help and foodcycle provided one of the meals at a community centre with a volunteer using corporate time.
  4. Other volunteers. There are other avenues to finding volunteers, but you will need to consider the issues raised when taking volunteers on.

There are issues around volunteers, particularly in relation to safeguarding. Council run meals using volunteers would have to recruit using city council guidelines and adhere to policy and procedure.

Non council venues would need to ensure that they have robust systems in place to ensure that volunteers are screened and that safeguarding policies and procedures are in place. Risk assessments can give you an idea of what issues might be raised and how you will manage them if they do.


Depending on the local need and the location of the venue, numbers may be varied. Ours ranged from 30 to 120 meals. You will need to think about if your venue will be sufficient to host the amount of people who may show up. Other considerations may be; if there are sufficient chairs and tables to seat people, access requirements, if you have parking, are close to a bus stop, if the venue is safe and easy to find.


You will need:

  1. Food. You will need to think about allergies as well as the kind of food families in your catchment will eat. A good idea of the local demographic will help you with the types of food that may be popular in your community. Two choices of main and two choices of pudding works well as it allows for allergies and dietary preferences.
  2. A kitchen. The size of cooker you have access to will dictate what you can provide. You’ll need to think about your menu and how you are going to juggle the hob and oven space to ensure everything is cooked in time if your facilities are limited.
  3. Large pans, oven dishes, trays and utensils. You will be restricted by how many pans and dishes you have as well as how they fit onto the hob you use or the oven space.
  4. Serving dishes, utensils to serve with. It can be a useful option to have dishes that can be topped up rather than serving from a very large pan.
  5. Lots of plates, bowls and cutlery. More than the amount of people you think you’ll serve to accommodate for second helpings, late comers, and if there’s enough left, allowing staff and volunteers to eat.
  6. A system to collect dirty dishes, cutlery and uneaten food to keep apart from the serving area to ensure smoothness of service.
  7. Take away receptacles. Bags, paper plates and foil, foil cartons with lids – all options you can use to let families take home any surplus.
  8. A lot of help for washing dishes. It takes a long time and a lot of effort to clean up!


Having an activity for the families is key to success. Activities bring the families together and create a focus other than the food. Families that may feel embarrassment about turning up for a ‘free lunch’ are able to come along for the activities and stay on for lunch without feeling any stigma. Activities also help create a good atmosphere and give families an opportunity to socialise.

Our feedback and evaluation highlighted that the social value included; the benefits of inter-generational interaction as well as socialising opportunities for both the children and the parents; a strong appreciation of the supportive atmosphere created; an informal exchange of helpful information; opportunities to informally explore people’s reality and stories in a way that enabled helpful signposting.

We used a range of options for providing activities and will be using more options as the project moves forward. Activities and delivery have included:

  1. Organising the lunch around the ChYpPs summerdaze programme at a community centre.
  2. Using church staff and volunteers to do craft activities
  3. Using staff to keep the children entertained with games (like musical statues)
  4. Finding partners that want to work in your area

Tapping into the expertise or enthusiasm you can find locally, or for free, or as part of a wider delivery programme will keep costs down. However, safe guarding needs to be stringent as activities involve direct contact with children and vulnerable people 



There is no reason why any of the three meals of the day can’t be delivered, but for this programme, lunch works best. Any left overs can also be packaged up and sent home with families for later. Any food sent home should be given with instructions about storage and reheating to minimise any risk.

Activities for an hour (or two) followed by lunch at noon or soon after, works well for most families.

Getting the word out

It’s never too early to start the conversation. It takes a little while for news of any new project to filter out and it’s even harder to reach the families that would benefit the most.

Worries about attracting families who don’t need to be there are unfounded. If families turn up, then they have identified they need to be there. Even those that appear affluent on the surface often have a story to tell that identifies they are struggling.

Top tips:

  1. Try to keep it local
  2. Use your local events to speak to families and get the message out. We handed out fliers at the local carnival 2 months before the project to start the ball rolling.
  3. Use local newsletters.
  4. Community centre and church noticeboards – get posters up
  5. Speak to local schools, nurseries and children’s centres. Ask them to help identify families in need and encourage them to come.
  6. Make use of parent mail, pupil premium champions and other school contacts to get the message out into book bags and emails.
  7. Use your Facebook pages. It can spread further than you’d like, but it will get your local families sharing the information with each other.
  8. Professionals and community champions. Use networking events, email contacts and personal conversations to make sure those working with families know what you’re doing so they encourage families to attend.


If you would like any further information or just to chat through any questions or concerns, please email Binnie Pickard on tel 508149 or David Maher (Vicar, Good Shepherd church) on tel 351844. has some great information to get you thinking.