THE long school holidays will mean that thousands of children
will miss meals and go hungry, because their parents cannot afford
to feed them, new research suggests.
More than two-thirds of families classed as living in food
poverty rely on free food given out in schools - through free
school lunches, or breakfast and after-school clubs - to feed their
children. Without it, families said that they would not be able to
provide enough food for their children through the summer
One in five parents in the UK are struggling to feed their
children, the research by the Trussell Trust, Tesco, and the
food-distribution charity FareShare suggested.
The three organisations organised a large food collection last
weekend to provide emergency food to people who are struggling. The
first such national collection last year raised the equivalent of
2.4 million meals for people in need, and Tesco committed itself to
topping up donations by 30 per cent.
The group corporate affairs director at Tesco, Rebecca Shelley,
said: "This research reveals that, since our last national food
collection in December, the problem of food poverty in the UK has
increased, and shows no signs of improving. It's hitting families
hard, especially when resources like free school meals, breakfast
clubs, and after-school clubs are not available."
The executive chairman of Trussell Trust, Chris Mould, said:
"That one in five parents in this country are struggling to afford
food for their families, and thousands more people are turning to
food banks for emergency food, is a stark reminder of how tough
things have become for many ordinary people. Trussell Trust food
banks have recently seen the biggest ever increase in numbers
turning to us for help; almost 350,000 people received three days'
emergency food in 2012-13 - 170 per cent more than the previous
"We're meeting parents who've gone hungry for days in order to
feed their children, and school holidays are always especially
difficult, with many budgets stretched to breaking point. Our food
banks across the UK are working tirelessly to meet the growing
demand, and the Tesco collection will provide vital supplies to
help stop families going hungry this summer."
The Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Tim Thornton, has called for
research into the link between benefit cuts and the demand for food
A study by Church Action Poverty and Oxfam last month said more
than 500,000 people in the UK may rely on food banks. The charities
said that the current situation was a "national disgrace", and was
the result of harsh reforms to the welfare system, introduced by
the Government (
News, 7 June).
The Trussell Trust has been named "Britain's most admired
charity" by chief executives of charities and not-for-profit
organisations in the UK. It runs 360 food banks through churches
across the UK. The charity received the honour at Third Sector's
2013 charity awards, held in Google's headquarters in London.