#ActiveAte: Bringing together a community in Bristol adventure playground

Bristol adventure playground The Ranch had been closed for months before finding new management and reopening in April – just in time to provide vital food provision to up to 50 children each day over the summer holidays.

The venue, run by children’s charity Bristol Playbus, is based in one of the city’s most deprived areas and offers a safe space for kids to learn, socialise and play over the summer holidays and around school hours during term time. Children of all ages are welcome and have access to a football court, softplay room, arts and crafts area, zip wire, sand and water play area and more.

Previously, due to costs the venue had only been able to offer a tuck shop, meaning families could purchase confectionary and crisps for children at a small price.

Now though, thanks to signing up as a member with FareShare South West, The Ranch is able to provide a nutritious, hot meal to every child and parent that attends each day. What’s better, the cost savings made by receiving food from FareShare means that the project provides the meals to families completely free of charge.

Sam, Play Lead at The Ranch, an adventure playground run by Bristol Playbus in the South West, knows that the food and activities provided for free at the venue is really valued by families in the area. “Families live hand to mouth in this area, so we knew that being able to provide healthy food would be really important.

“It’s had a massive impact on children. Before, kids would run around all day and without a full and healthy meal in their stomachs, would end up lethargic or irritable by the end of the day. Now the meals we cook together sustain them for the whole day – keeping them happy and making friends, whilst also active until hometime. Plus, we know it’s one less meal for parents to worry about having to provide.”

Katie Hanchard-Goodwin, Manager of Bristol Playbus, added: “Food has been a real catalyst for change among the community here this summer – not just providing new food experiences for many kids, but also connecting and engaging children and families.

“Having tried the new and exciting choice of food we’re now able to provide, parents have begun volunteering with the cooking and children also take on various roles such as helping with cleaning, waitressing or putting together menus – so everyone is involved and it is a real inclusive group effort.

“It’s a valuable time which has added structure to our day. During this time where everyone sits down to eat, important conversations happen and friendships are made.”

FareShare launched ActiveAte in June – a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of holiday hunger and increase its provision of meals for children at risk of food poverty this summer. ActiveAte supports projects which not only provide food but also activities such as sport or drama. In doing so, children enjoy their summer holidays on a full stomach, but are also kept active and develop their skills, able to return to school in September healthy and ready to learn.

In just one year there has been a 150% increase in demand for holiday food provision and FareShare is appealing to the public for donations. Just £7 could enable FareShare to provide 28 meals for children at a holiday project. To find out more and donate to FareShare’s ActiveAte campaign, visit our appeal page.

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