Fead and Read: libraries providing food and activities to children in holidays

Posted 4 Dec 2017 by Ian Anstice in Training

Examples of Feed and Read schemes in the North West

Child foodThis is where children use the library over a school holiday period, with food being provided. This is often, but not always, in partnership with another agency.


Lunches for children provided by Urban Outreach over the summer .  This programme was extended to several branches this year. The lunches will be available every day over the 6 week summer holiday, with libraries opened up if it’s a day they are closed usually. Schools are emailed closest to the libraries to let them know and libraries promote the sessions in outreach sessions for other activities.  The sessions are open to all. if any child is hungry over the summer and would like a lunch they just need to visit the library.  Libraries are also going to supply an activity of some kind at each session, such as storytimes.


Warrington are running this project over the Summer with Active Warrington. They have local funding and or widening their successful Fit and Fed programme. The main parts of the project are:

  • Children recruited will be from a ward with deprivation issues, with children from 5 up joining a programme of sports and reading activities. They will also be provided with meals and instructed about healthy eating

  • Young leaders will volunteer to help at the sessions and will gain a food hygiene qualification as part of the project. We are also hoping to recruit Reading Hackers especially to help with Summer Reading Challenge.

  • It takes place 4 days a week. Libraries will be involved for 2 days.

  • See below for the sort of activities we will be doing on a Tuesday. On Friday the children will be taken on an away day to Stockton Heath which will include a visit to the library in the morning with the chance to join in with Summer Reading Challenge and to the park in the afternoon. Many children will not previously have often travelled that far outside their immediate location.

  • Active Warrington will provide staff, recruit participants, cover transport and book venues.

Possible activities – could all be tied in to healthy eating or good mental well-being. We have tended to work with older children with this as you will see by some of the examples, but can adapt it for younger ones.

  • Create a digital book review – usually we do a Vine (now obsolete I believe!) or animation

  • Rugby Reading Champions sessions – based around favourite reads of Wolves players. Book and rugby quiz, match the player to the right book. Possible stadium tour, training session attendance, match day attendance, visit by role model player

  • Join up to Summer Reading Challenge and give them associated rewards.

  • Listen to Hip Hop Shakespeare and create their own poem (this is not boring I promise. We listen to Akala and talk about how Shakespeare and Hip Hop are both poetry.  Would need to adapt to for a younger audience so would probably listen to someone like Craig Bradley http://www.craigbradley.com/index.html

  • Create emoji stories or guess the emoji book. They can either create a story using only emojis or create a review of a story using only emojis and see if the others can guess the book.

  • Create a comic – we have a template we can use,  they can create it by putting photos together or they can draw it

  • Create a photo story – a six word story illustrated by 6 photos. Can make a healthy eating story –  eg we had 1 which was no booze, no fags, be healthy with a photo for each word. 

  • Twitter or text story – we can give the beginning of a twitter or text story that they can finish.

Review of our Friday group sessions here https://readingagency.org.uk/young-people/002-showcase/changing-attitudes-to-reading-in-warrington.html


In Manchester, Read and Feed was piloted/trialled throughout the school holidays in July-August 2017, with a full high-profile implementation in summer 2018. This approach will enable us to ensure high-quality delivery.   

As Fallowfield is a community library, volunteers will be available to support the scheme.  When the scheme is run in 2018 in other libraries, we will engage volunteers to support the scheme. We have worked with GM FareShare for the first time.  They supplied food for free (with a nominal administration charge) and additional sandwiches were purchased from a local supplier. We held reading / craft activities, to increase engagement with the Summer Reading Challenge.  The scheme is not designed to reach very high numbers, but target those that need it, and increase the amount of people starting and completing the Summer Reading Challenge. 

On the very first day of the Read and Feed scheme, one Mum arrived with 3 children and explained to Elaine and myself that her 11 year son was autistic and would be unable to join in any activities like painting and gluing and would find it difficult to interact with others. At first he wouldn’t make eye contact with us but with encouragement he joined in with all the activities and over time he would chat to us about books and games he liked. We told him how we could reserve books from other libraries which he did and managed to complete the reading challenge. He especially enjoyed the iPad sessions where we did Stop motion with Lego. There were some challenging moments when he got upset but we managed to gently talk him through them. Towards the end of the scheme his Mum said how thrilled she was with how he had joined in and built up a relationship with us and hoped it would help him when he started High School.

St Helens

St Helens has taken part in the very first Food in Schools Holidays project this year. We were given a budget from Public Health to provide food at our events. We decided to use our existing events around the Summer Reading Challenge and earmark some of them for food. We had:

Children had to book onto these sessions and at the end they received a snack bag containing a bottle of water, cereal bar, chocolate, fruit and a packet of Pom Bear crisps. We took details of allergies at the time of booking but there was only two instances of allergies being recorded out of hundreds of places booked.

The scheme was a great success and very well received and Public Health are now preparing a report advising that the strategy should be adopted permanently and all holiday periods should have funding allocated to provide food at events


The idea came in 2016 from local councillor John Blundell. Here’s an article he wrote on where the inspiration came from: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/john-blundell/feeding-minds-and-empty-s_b_13601598.html

This year, the scheme was rolled out to 6 libraries across 4 townships: Belfield and Balderstone (Rochdale Township), Smallbridge (Pennine Township), Darnhill (Heywood Township) and Junction and Langley (Middleton Township).  The libraries chosen are in areas with a high number of children eligible for free school meals.  Funding has been provided by the Townships.

The aims of the project this year are broadly similar – primarily to provide a healthy lunch for children who might otherwise go without – but also to encourage take up of the Summer Reading Challenge – all children who attend automatically become library members and are enrolled in the challenge - and engage them in reading/craft and related activities.  This year, we are extending the appeal of the scheme by working with Link4Life (Rochdale Boroughwide Cultural Trust, provider of arts, sport and heritage services in the Rochdale borough) who had independently secured funding through charity Street Games   http://www.streetgames.org/ to provide their own Fit and Fed programme, led by Link4Life sports coaches. 

By pooling resources, and sourcing food cheaply from Fare Share http://www.fareshare.org.uk/regional-centres/greater-manchester/  , we are able to offer 30 places for “Fit, Feed and Read” at each venue.  Leaflets (see attached) are going out to targeted schools in the participating libraries’ catchment areas and parents are asked to complete the registration form and return it to their chosen library.  Extending the scheme this year has presented quite a lot of challenges, not least having to open up part-time libraries out of hours and buy in extra staff (from ROSA – Rochdale and Oldham Supply Agency) but we’ll see how it goes.  Each session (11am – 2.30pm) will involve at least an hour of reading/related activities/craft and at least an hour of sports/games/fitness as well as the lunch aspect.

See also these examples from the USA:

North West Libraries

Librarians in the North West have pioneered partnership working to encourage new readers into libraries. Time To Read is a partnership of librarians engaged in reader development activity in public library authorities in the North West Region. 22 public library authorities in the region currently support Time To Read.

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