Schoolchildren in Lancashire will benefit from a new grant programme launching this summer which will provide £5m in grants to help give them a healthier, more active, stronger start in life.

In the first year, 5,300 schools will be able to apply for support funding to get pupils the nutritious food they need throughout the school day, and resources to keep them physically active with new sports and play equipment or outdoor activities.

The scheme, supported by UK community charity Groundwork, will replace the current Tesco Community Grants funding programme.

It will focus on getting schools who lack funds and resources to apply for extra financial help they might need to provide healthy food and activities that boost young people’s mental and physical wellbeing.

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Recent findings from Groundwork show that 78 per cent of schools are currently having to provide food for children from their own budget.

Data from Child Poverty Action Group shows that 800,000 children living in poverty are not eligible for free school meals and two million children do not have access to a healthy diet.

Jason Tarry, Tesco UK chief executive, said: “Tackling classroom hunger is vitally important in helping children get a stronger start in life.

"Children with enough food have more energy, better concentration and ultimately do better in school.

"As a business that is at the heart of communities, we know that urgent action is needed to improve the lives and prospects of young people. 

“We hope our initiative will help families and schools that are struggling to keep children fed.”

Graham Duxbury, Groundwork’s UK Chief Executive, said: “Schools are at the heart of our communities, and we have supported thousands of projects led by teachers and parents.

"We know that schools are now doing everything they can to help families cope with the rising cost of living, but that school budgets are also under huge pressure. 

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“We’re really pleased that through the Tesco programme, we can now focus attention on helping schools provide extra support to those who need it most - helping families make ends meet and helping children learn and flourish.”

Schools will be able to apply via Groundwork for a grant of up to £1,500 that can go towards activities that focus on providing food to pupils such as fruit for breakfast clubs or snacks to enjoy throughout the day and for equipment for outdoor and indoor activities.

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Successful applications will go to a customer vote in their local Tesco store.

Two out of the three blue token voting boxes by the checkout will be dedicated to local schools with the third given over to local community projects nominated by each store’s colleagues.

Customers can then choose which of the three projects they’d like to support by voting with a blue token.

The initiative will also be boosted by Tesco’s ‘Golden Grants’ events, that saw it give away £1 million last year to mark reaching £100m worth of grants awarded to local communities through the Tesco Community Grants Fund.

In 2023/24, Tesco will award 200 Golden Grants worth £5,000 each to schools and local projects.