NEARLY half the children fed by foodbanks are in primary school, and demand for emergency food parcels rises during the summer holidays, when children can no longer get free school meals, statistics indicate.
The UK’s largest provider of foodbanks, the Trussell Trust, has for the first time released a breakdown of its clients, which shows that 67,506 three-day emergency food supplies were provided for children by the network in July and August last year. Of these children, more than a quarter — 27 per cent — were under four years old, 47 per cent were of primary-school age, and 21 per cent were teenagers.
The Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Tim Thornton, who led an inquiry into foodbanks which called for urgent action from the Government to address growing hunger and inequality, said the figures were “shocking”.
“That so many primary-age children are going without food in our country is of great concern.”
While it was good that churches and the community did so much to help those in need, more needed to be done to understand why so many families were forced into food poverty, he said.
The statistics show that 4412 more three-day emergency food supplies were given to children in July and August 2016 than in the previous two months; the charity attributes this rise to the fact that children lose their free school lunches in the holidays.
The charity is also running 27 holiday clubs this summer, offering families a hot meal and the chance to talk to a trained volunteer.
Churches are expected to provide tens of thousands of free meals to families over the summer, from packed lunches distributed at collection centres to hot meals served in church halls, and made from surplus supermarket food and foodbank donations.