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16 June 2020
FareShare, the UK’s largest food charity, predicts more children will face hunger and malnutrition in July and August than ever before.
1.3m children are eligible for free school meals, however, during the school holidays, this safety net is removed. Many children will survive on foods with low nutritional value, or even skip meals.
Last year the charity provided healthy snacks and meals to over 700 holiday clubs across the UK, reaching more than 43,000 vulnerable children.
This year the situation could be much worse – with many families being pushed into financial hardship as a result of the lockdown. A further 1.4 million families have applied for Universal Credit since the start of the outbreak.
FareShare has seen demand for food skyrocket, particularly among frontline organisations providing food parcels to struggling families. Since lockdown began the number of frontline organisations applying to receive food from FareShare has tripled. The charity is now serving 25% more organisations providing meals and food parcels to vulnerable children and families, such as food banks and community groups. It is delivering 30% more food to these groups – enough to create over a million meals a week.
Based on the increase in demand seen in previous years FareShare estimates organisations supporting children and families will need at least 40% more food over the summer holidays, compared to pre-crisis levels in term time.
There is also still a great deal of uncertainty whether holiday clubs, which typically ‘step in’ over summer to offer children healthy nutritious meals, will be able to reach as many children because of social distancing measures – or if they will even be able to open at all.
FareShare takes good quality surplus food from the food industry and redistributes it to charities across the UK. During the crisis they have also been delivering packets and tins to help charities and community groups create much-needed food parcels.
FareShare CEO, Lindsay Boswell, says: “Every year we see more local holiday clubs and activity schemes springing up to plug the ‘hungry gap’ over the long summer break. These schemes offer a lifeline for struggling families up and down the country – and we know millions more people are facing greater financial strain because of the pandemic.
“If these vital schemes can’t serve the same number of children or even open at all then food banks and grassroots organisations delivering meals and food parcels will see many more vulnerable families turning to them for help.
“Our network of charities are just about coping with hugely increased demand – and that’s with families receiving vouchers to cover the cost of meals during term-time. When that support is taken away, and with fewer holiday schemes operating around the country, more children could face the very real prospect of going hungry over the summer months.”
“It’s not right that any child in this country should go hungry and we urge government to do everything in their power to prevent this from happening.
“We also know that despite 1 in 8 people struggling to put food on the table over 2m tonnes of perfectly good to eat food is wasted in the UK supply chain every year and so we are calling on government to continue covering the costs of getting that surplus food to frontline charities supporting vulnerable people.
“We absolutely support Marcus Rashford’s call to provide support for those families who are suffering most as a result of the crisis, and all the bodies working to tackle childhood hunger in the UK.”
You can donate to FareShare’s appeal to stop children going hungry over the holidays.
If you are a food business and can offer either surplus or donated food please contact [email protected]