Celebrity chef Tom Kerridge visited a Buckinghamshire primary school to see how local harder-pressed families are being supported this summer.

Tom put on a cooking masterclass at one of the council’s Holiday Activities and Food clubs which offer free summer activities together with a healthy meal, to support those families receiving benefits related to free school meals.

The children at Beechview Academy School in High Wycombe learnt how to make coleslaw with the Marlow chef believing making healthy food engaging is one of the “oldest problems parents have”.

With child food poverty a cause close to Tom’s heart, he was keen to lend his support and see a holiday club in action for himself.

He said: “It is important to keep the kids massively occupied and enjoy life during the summer holidays.

“Once they start doing stuff with food, learning skills like chopping and learning where vegetables come from.

“All those sorts of things help them engage with food as a major part of their life.

“Food is something we all need to survive, everybody eats and it’s really important to try and focus on healthier lifestyles and how good can be.

“Engaging kids with vegetables is one of the oldest problems parents have.”

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The chef has also teamed up with England and Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford in offering back-to-basics recipe ideas and culinary tips for low-income families to help tackle food poverty.

Last year the footballer forced the Government to extend free school meals and he has been heavily praised by Tom for his role in helping to feed children.

He continued: “We have seen over the last 18 months how incredible Marcus is in engaging with young children and parents to show it doesn’t matter what background you’re from or your economic position somebody like Marcus is constantly looking out for you.

“He is using his influence as a massive positive, so Marcus is a wonderfully captivating young man and he is showing he is constantly got these kids back.”

Discussing free school meals Tom believes that a long-term solution needs to be put in place to overcome the problem.

Tom revealed that he was on free school meals as a child with the issue still being as relevant now as it was when he was young.

He said: “People have been very reactive to the situation but we should be more proactive.

“I’m twice Marcus’ age and I qualified for free school meals and the fact that Marcus is highlighting the issues being faced now but 23 years ago the same problems were being highlighted then."

“It’s a much bigger and broader picture, we need to be proactive in thinking of the future instead of being reactive to the situation now.”

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Julie Ward, Deputy Cabinet Member for Education and Skills at Buckinghamshire council, also attended the event and hopes the children will be inspired by seeing the celebrity chef.

She said: “I think it tremendously important, especially having such a well-known chef as Tom Kerridge to come along and support the scheme.

“Especially after the year we have had some communities can feel forgotten and overlooked and it is important as we as a council let them know it is not the case.”

The Holiday Activities and Food clubs are funded by the Government and run by Buckinghamshire Council in collaboration with local providers.

Youngsters get the chance to have a go at a wide range of activities from sport, dance and drama, to art, cookery and much more.

Ryan White from Get Active Sports, who runs the holiday club at Beechwood Academy School, has seen an increased uptake since the programme launched.

He said: “We have been running camps for 10 to 12 years but this programme has been able to make it more accessible for so many more children.

“It is great to see children who haven’t been able to access the programme to come in and make friends.

“Hopefully it gives the families some support as well.”