Food, Families, Futures

Food poverty is increasingly recognised as a major issue that has a substantial impact on children and families in many parts of Scotland. During school holidays, when childen are without access to free school meals, it can be exacerbated. Children in Scotland’s Food, Families, Futures (FFF) project addresses the issue of food poverty and its links with wellbeing, learning and attainment.

Food, Families, Futures (FFF)

FFF aims to:

  • improve the health and wellbeing of children and their families
  • improve the engagement and confidence of parents in their children's learning, to improve early development, social inclusion, aspiration and attainment of children
  • increase support and commitment from the local community to make it more sustainable

In the project’s first year (2016) Children in Scotland worked with Glasgow, Perth and Kinross and North Ayrshire local authorities, using a variety of approaches to reflect the differing needs of local areas. Ibrox and Dalmarnock ran summer holiday clubs, Perth and Kinross October holiday clubs and North Ayrshire breakfast/after school clubs.

The Cost of School Holidays Literature Review (2015) identified that 38.8% of primary school pupils and 29.8% of secondary pupils in Glasgow receive free school meals (FSM). In particular, Ibrox and Dalmarnock primary schools have two of the highest rates of FSM entitlement in Scotland and were identified as pilot schools.

There were a number of notable successes:

  • good numbers of children and families attended and enjoyed the clubs
  • food was a central focus for all the clubs
  • varied activities were available, including free play and arts and crafts
  • schools were in use as community hubs
  • positive impact extended beyond the clubs (e.g. parental engagement)
  • new partnerships were formed (education, community, industry, health, third sector, funders)

As well as some challenges:

  • accessing and using school kitchens
  • ensuring food was of the high nutritional quality and appropriate to diverse school communities

Developing and expanding

In its second year (2017) the FFF project expanded into West Dunbartonshire (two summer clubs) and increased the numbers in Glasgow, North Ayrshire and Perth and Kinross. Glasgow City Council increased funding to allow more communities to benefit from the co-ordinated approach.

This year chefs were introduced into many of the clubs (often through partner Brakes). Gary Maclean, winner of MasterChef: the Professionals, visited Dalmarnock. This improved the variety and nutrition standard of the food provided, which – not surprisingly – improved children and family engagement with the clubs.

This year the successes included:

  • the numbers – around 4,000 places were taken up by children, parents and guardians
  • positive feedback from children, families and practitioners
  • improvements in the food that was available
  • parents gaining food-related qualifications


  • practicalities of the food/chefs aspect (food ordering/delivery etc)


Academic evaluation of summer holiday clubs across the UK, including those run under the FFF banner, is currently being led by Professor Greta Defeyter, Director of Healthy Living at Northumbria University. Professor Defeyter states:

Research from Northumbria University has shown that holiday clubs afford a number of benefits to families and children. For example, holiday clubs help to reduce social isolation, provide a structure for family engagement in physical and social activities, provide free, healthy food, and bring communities together. We know that many children suffer from educational learning loss across the summer and we are currently investigating whether holiday clubs help to attenuate this loss.”

An academic paper on the impact of the clubs on holiday learning loss will be published soon.

In collaboration with businesses and funders that share FFF values (such as food supplier Brakes, Asda, Gannochy Trust, STV Hunter), the project combines the knowledge, expertise, values and national networks of the third sector, business and industry to facilitate successful local partnerships to tackle food poverty.

For more information about the project contact Elaine Kerridge, Policy Manager (Participation & Engagement). Email: or phone 0131 313 8840.