Trussell Trust foodbanks gave out 20 per cent more emergency food parcels last summer as holiday hunger began to bite – and experts worry that number will rise this year. The national foodbank charity distributed 87,496 parcels to children while they were off for their school holiday in 2018, dwarfing the number given out in 2017.
While the children are off school in the summer, they miss out on free school meals, leaving parents to provide the extra meal – and when they are already on the breadline it can push them towards foodbanks to feed their kids.
The charity has also warned that foodbanks should not be a long-term solution to hunger and is urging the government to end the five-week wait for Universal Credit payments to ensure that families are not left without the cash to buy essentials.
Experts insist holiday hunger can’t be separated from the spiralling costs of childcare bills that eat into parents’ coffers over the summer. This can cost families up to £828 over six weeks, according to a new study by Coram Family and Childcare’s Holiday Childcare Survey.
The Trussell Trust’s chief executive Emma Revie said: “Foodbanks will do all they can to help families over the summer, with many running holiday clubs to support parents who find that their income simply won’t stretch to meet the extra pressure of missing free school meals or paying for additional childcare during the holidays. But no charity can replace the dignity of having enough money for the basics.”
Professor Greta Defeyter agreed. She was one of the earliest researchers in the UK to investigate the impact of food insecurity on vulnerable families during the school holidays. Now she heads up Northumbria University’s Healthy Living Lab, which was the first to map out the free holiday provision across England and Wales.