Hot meals are being made available in the summer holidays for children who are usually eligible for free school lunches.

School meal caterers HCL has teamed up with their suppliers to end ‘holiday hunger,’ by providing daily nutritious hot meals for children attending this year’s summer program Fit, Fed and Read.

These will be available for four days a week at fire stations across the county, including Watford, Rickmansworth, Borehamwood, St Albans and Hemel Hempstead.

For many children, a school lunch may be the only hot meal they get in a day, and research has shown that families on lower incomes struggle financially with the extra cost of feeding their children in the holidays.

The Fit, Fed and Read sessions are available to children between 7 and 12 who are eligible for free school meals during term time. In addition to lunch, the HCL nutritionists will run two-hour interactive sessions where children can learn about healthy eating and get the chance to see and taste exotic fruits and vegetables that they may never have heard of before.

To round off the children’s experience, they will get to make their own smoothies using pedal power, with specially adapted smoothie-making bicycles.

Stuart Clarke, head of operations at HCL, said: “It’s been a great joint effort to deliver the Fit, Fed and Read programme.

“It’s the second summer the initiative has returned to Hertfordshire, coming from the successful pilot launch last year and a two-week Easter programme in April this year.

“We hope the workshops are nurturing experience for the children that will have a lasting effect beyond the school holidays.”

This year, HCL is set to prepare more than 200 hot meals a day, four days a week across each of the 10 fire stations taking part until August 22.

The sessions will take place at fire stations in Hemel, Stevenage, Watford, Cheshunt, Borehamwood, Hatfield, St Albans, Baldock, Rickmansworth and Bishops Stortford.