HUNDREDS of disadvantaged children in Harwich and Dovercourt are set to get free nutritious meals thanks to a big cash boost.

A pilot scheme to feed about 750 youngsters from four schools in the area during weekends and school holidays is launching in April at St Nicholas Hall, in Bathside.

Called Holiday Fun, the programme is part of an existing scheme run by Firstsite, in Colchester, providing meals for families, alongside activities which is being extended to Harwich.

The Harwich pilot scheme is set to start in April and run for eight weeks.

It is believed the project will cost £60,000 which is being funded by Tendring Council, Arts Council England, and the North East Essex CCG.

Sally Shaw, director of Firstsite said: "We are really excited to be able to bring this programme to Harwich.

"Firstsite’s Holiday Fun initiative is all about using art and creativity to develop people’s imagination and bring communities together to solve problems which arise during the school holidays, such as holiday hunger and social isolation.

"We will be working with the artist Susan Pui San Lok, to deliver this extended pilot programme in Tendring."

The programme will offer drop-in art workshops, sports activities and a canteen providing nutritious hot meals which will be available at no cost to families who qualify for free school meals.

The activities will be available on selected weekdays, weekends and school holidays during the summer months.

Ms Shaw added: "We will be sharing more information about the activities on offer and how people can get involved very shortly."

Zoe Fairley, Tendring Council's cabinet member for investment and growth, said the scheme would hopefully be of great benefit to less fortunate families around Harwich.

"This is a fantastic example of our emerging Creative and Cultural Strategy already having a positive impact in Tendring," she said.

"The Holiday Fun programme has already proven its worth in Colchester and I am delighted to see it being extended to Harwich."

She said the idea came about because of a "strong relationship" the council's built with Firstsite.

Ms Fairley added: "Indeed, Firstsite director Sally Shaw has said the catalyst for the additional funding started with our initial commitment and shows our can do approach to initiatives in Tendring."