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‘Children will go hungry during school holidays’

12 July 2013

by a staff reporter


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 holiday.

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 year.

"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 banks.

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.

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