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Food banks appeal for help to feed children during school holidays

Posted on: 2018-08-03 05:00:00

Calls have been made for the public to donate to their local food bank during the summer holidays owing to increasing demand from families who rely on free school meals during term time.

The Trussell Trust, an anti-poverty charity, said an increase in food bank use over the summer was driven by a rise in demand by children, as it released figures from its network of more than 420 food banks across the country.

While the number of adults seeking supplies from food banks during the summer months decreased in 2017, the number of children needing support shot up.

During July and August 2017, food banks provided more than 204,525 three-day emergency supplies, 74,011 of which went to children. In the preceding two months, 70,510 supplies went to children. The number of adults seeking help from food banks fell from 131,521 in May and June to 130,514 in July and August.

Local authorities and charities have reported an increasing demand for projects to support families during the holidays, including children’s clubs run by food banks. Factors such as the higher cost of living and the rollout of universal credit are blamed.

The Guardian reported on Wednesday that the government had secretly drawn up plans to investigate whether its own policies were responsible for the sharp rise in the use of food banks.

Last year, a report bythe all-party parliamentary group on hunger estimated that the lack of access to free school meals during the holidays could cost parents between £30 and £40 a week per child.

The Trussell Trust said there had been a shortage of donations last summer and called on the public to check which items were most needed by food banks in their local area.

Samantha Stapley, the trust’s director of operations, said food banks should not be a long-term solution to hunger at any time of year.

“No charity can replace people having enough money for the basics,” she said. “There are changes we can make as a nation to help during the holidays, but if we are to protect each other from hunger whatever the time of year, we have to go further than that.

“We know particular groups of people are most likely to need a food bank, so let’s make sure no one is swept into destitution. Our benefits system can, and must, act as an anchor to protect people from being pulled into poverty.”

Margaret Greenwood, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said more than 4 million children were growing up in poverty in the UK and that the number was expected to rise sharply as a direct result of government policies. “The government needs to take stock of the impact that its social security policies are having on the health and wellbeing of children,” she said.

A government spokesperson said: “We are committed to supporting families to improve their lives and employment remains the best route to achieve that. We recently announced a £2m fund for organisations to support disadvantaged families during the school holidays, which can include providing healthy meals.”




Source: The Guardian 

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