23 March 2017
A group of over 30 organisations, including national charities, businesses and academics, are calling on the UK Government, the Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly to commit to eliminating ‘Holiday Hunger’, where children from poorer families struggle to eat a nutritious diet during school holidays.
Currently 1.7 million children are eligible for free school meals during term time, and this ensures that they are able to access a free, hot and nutritionally balanced cooked meal five days a week. Once the holiday periods start this safety net is removed and these children and their families face the challenge of trying to stretch their budgets in order to eat. The result is that many are going without proper food during the school holidays.
The letter, sent to the relevant Secretaries of State and Cabinet Secretaries, congratulates the Welsh Government on their support and urges them to maintain and build on this commitment. It calls on the other UK administrations to commit to playing their part in eliminating the social injustice of ‘Holiday Hunger’ for all children in the UK, and to:
Lindsay Boswell, CEO at FareShare, said:
“FareShare supports over 250 Breakfast Clubs during Term Time, ensuring that children start the day with a nutritional breakfast. Not all of these roll over into Holiday Clubs during the school holidays and so it is essential that additional provision and support is put in place so that holidays are not a time of hunger.”
Kath Dalmeny, Chief Executive at Sustain, the alliance for better food and farming, said:
“A wide-ranging group of organisations and individuals including charities, businesses, academics and funders, are increasingly concerned about the number of children struggling to eat enough or going hungry during the school holidays. Throughout these periods, parents have the challenges of managing increased childcare demands, heavier domestic bills and the cost of providing extra meals. Children living in these circumstances often experience multiple difficulties including hunger, poor-quality food, social isolation, learning loss and family tension. The impact of this can mean children return to school having fallen behind and in a poorer physical state than when they left school and the end of the previous term. We need a combination of action from national and local government alongside non-statutory partners to rebuild and enhance the safety net for families in poverty.”
Naami Padi, Director at the Venture Community Association which provides food during the school holidays as part of its activities for children, said:
“Over 500 children access our holiday programmes and if we didn’t provide them with a meal many would go hungry. Most of our children are eligible for free school meals so parents are able to keep food costs low during term time. During the holidays these parents have hungry children to feed and no extra income, it’s no wonder a lot of them go hungry. It is our responsibility to feed children and the resources required are modest in relation to the impact. I am hopeful that government will commit to this call for action and do everything in their power to eliminate holiday hunger.”