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Policy Papers and Publications

The Healthy Living Lab was one of the first labs in the UK to investigate the impact of food insecurity on vulnerable families and children during the school holidays.

Our findings have made a difference at both a national and personal level. They have shown the importance of programmes which support some of our most disadvantaged children, parents and communities. 

Research from the Lab has led to a national shift in school breakfast programmes and has directly influenced the development and expansion of the Department for Education's Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme in England.

Here you can find links to our peer-reviewed research studies, as well as papers for Select Committees, Inquiries and for other organisations on key policy issues. 



School Meals & Pupil Premium: Hungry for Change

A working paper which estimates that universal free school meals across London may come at a cost to pupil premiums.

Covid-19: Back to School, Rebuilding a Better Future for All Children 

A submission (CIE0042) to the Education Select Committee inquiry on the impact of COVID-19 on education and children’s services.  

Food and coping strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic  

A policy paper from the Healthy Living Lab and Feeding Britain revealing the lengths to which millions of people in the UK are going to keep themselves and their families .  

Pioneering New Approaches to Children’s Food Budgets 

A case study with Feeding Britain that recommends children in receipt of free school meals should be able to 'carry over' unspent money from their electronic cards to make the system more equitable for all pupils.

Hungry for Change. A working paper on free school meals

A working paper for Feeding Britain which estimates that more than £88 million of free school meals are claimed, but not taken, in primary, secondary and special schools across England.

Holiday hunger: The government must remove the inequalities in children’s access to holiday clubs 

Opinion piece for The BMJ.

Sunderland City Council: Survey of holiday provision club leaders

An evaluation of the holiday programme in Sunderland to gain an understanding of the perceived needs of the community during the summer holidays; the types of holiday club provision on offer, and their objectives; and the perceived outcomes for parents and children

School and community breakfast clubs online training

An end of programme report into the success of a training programme – developed in partnership with Kellogg’s – for schools and community groups involved in the implementation or delivery of breakfast clubs during 2016-17.

A literature review of breakfast consumption and school breakfast clubs

A review of the academic literature published on children’s breakfast consumption and the impact of school breakfast clubs on children’s diet, health, and educational success.



Kitchen Social research report 

An evaluation of the effectiveness of the Kitchen Social programme at the individual, family and community level, as well as developing a fuller understanding of the context in which the hubs operate.

Evaluation of ‘A Day Out, Not A Handout’ holiday provision programme 

An exploration of the potential relationship between club provision and children's health, nutrition and wellbeing, as well as the potential relationship between club provision and parents' stress, isolation, financial strain and overall wellbeing.

Holiday club programmes in Northern Ireland: The voices of children and young people  

An investigation into the views of children and young people into holiday provision across three holiday clubs in Northern Ireland.

Published in Frontiers in Public Health, 2021

Holiday hunger and parental stress: evidence from North East England

Summer is a stressful time of year for many parents as they struggle to meet household expenses and feed children. This study looked at the association between holiday hunger and parental stress among a sample of UK parents with school age children living in North East England, finding that holiday hunger caused considerable distress among parents during the summertime.   

Published in Sustainability, 2020.

Holiday clubs as community organisations

One benefit of holiday clubs is that they provide healthy food to low-income children when schools are not in session. While holiday clubs are known for feeding children who may go hungry, they also provide additional anti-poverty benefits that strengthen community wellbeing. This research documents the important additional benefits beyond food that holiday clubs deliver to food insecure households.  

Published in The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 2020.

A question of justice: are holiday clubs serving the most deprived communities in England?

Holiday hunger in the UK has led to the establishment of hundreds of holiday clubs that feed children during the school holidays. This research examines where those clubs are located and if they are being established in communities where they are needed the most.  

Published in Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability, 2018.

Investigation of summer learning loss in the UK – implications for holiday club provision 

Summer learning loss is a problem for many UK households with school aged children. This research examined learning loss in spelling and word reading for school children in disadvantaged areas in the North East of England and west of Scotland who did not attend a holiday clubs over the summer. 

Published in Frontiers in Public Health, 2017.

The impact of holiday clubs on household food insecurity – a pilot study  

Holiday clubs help feed children in the UK during school holidays, but it is not clear whether they reduce food insecurity in a child’s household. This research surveyed parents and other caregivers about food security in their households and found that holiday clubs may serve as an important resource to help reduce holiday hunger across the UK. 

Published in Health and Social Care in the Community, 2017.

School holiday food provision in the UK: a qualitative investigation of needs, benefits and potential for development 

This research investigates the views of staff and volunteers working in holiday clubs to gauge their views about the needs and benefits of holiday food provision. The investigation revealed that staff and volunteers believe that holiday clubs are a valuable source of support for children and adults, providing food, activities, and learning experiences.  

Published in Frontiers in Public Health, 2016.

Universal free school breakfast: A qualitative process evaluation according to the perspectives of senior stakeholders

This study assessed senior stakeholder views on the processes and potential outcomes on different groups, within the communities served by school breakfast programmes. 

Published in Public Health Frontiers, 2016.

Breakfast clubs: Starting the day in a positive way

A study of directly observed children's behaviour within breakfast club settings to devise a set of observational criteria and investigate the occurrence of positive and negative behaviours.

Published in Frontiers in Public Health, 2015.

More than just a meal: Breakfast club attendance and children’s social relationships

An investigation of attendance at breakfast clubs and after school clubs to assess their impact on children's friendship quality and experiences of peer victimisation.

Published in Frontiers in Public Health, 2015.

The advantages and disadvantages of breakfast clubs according to parents, children and school staff in the North East of England, UK

An investigation into the views of parents, children and school staff on school breakfast clubs.

Published in Frontiers in Public Health, 2015.

A Literature Review on the Effects of Breakfast Consumption and School Breakfast Clubs

A review of the academic literature that has been published on children’s breakfast consumption and the impact of school breakfast clubs on children’s diet, health, and educational success.

Published by Feeding Britain, 2020

Universal free school breakfast: a qualitative model for breakfast behaviours

A study to investigate the beliefs, views and attitudes, and breakfast consumption behaviours among key stakeholders served by a council-wide universal free school breakfast initiative in the North West of England.

Published in Frontiers in Public Health, 2015.

HOLIDAY PROGRAMMES / Discover more about our leading research in the fight to end holiday hunger

Our Research Power / We are ranked within the top 40 globally for research citations.

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