Politics

Government 'must end school holiday hunger for poorest kids'

Without free school meals in holiday time, deprived pupils may not have enough to eat until term begins

School holidays are meant to be fun-filled and never quite long enough. But, unbelievably in 21st-century Britain, some youngsters from poorer families dread the time off because it means they won’t have enough to eat.

The situation is so dire that a group of 30 organisations including charities, businesses and academics have called on politicians to end so-called ‘holiday hunger’ in the UK.

Across the country, 1.7 million children are eligible for free school meals during term time, ensuring they get a hot and nutritious lunch five days a week.

But in holiday time the safety net is removed and the poorest families are left trying to stretch their budget to cover the extra food.

The organisations, including FareShare, which supports school breakfast clubs, and Sustain, the alliance for better food and farming, wrote to Westminster and Holyrood demanding they publicly sign up to end holiday hunger.

At the same time, they congratulated the Welsh government, which in January pledged £500,000 for Lunch and Fun clubs in areas of need over the holidays.

“A wide-ranging group of organisations and individuals are increasingly concerned about the number of children struggling to eat enough or going hungry during the school holidays,” said Kath Dalmeny, chief executive of Sustain.

“Throughout these periods, parents have the challenges of managing increased childcare demands, heavier domestic bills and the cost of providing extra meals.

Children living in these circumstances often experience multiple difficulties

“Children living in these circumstances often experience multiple difficulties including hunger, poor-quality food, social isolation, learning loss and family tension.”

Lindsay Boswell, CEO of FareShare, added that additional support is urgently needed “so that holidays are not a time of hunger”.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger has stated that “a national programme backed by £200m could all but eliminate child hunger during the school holidays” in England.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Sunak and top Tories keeping seats over voter ID confusion would be 'damaging to democracy'
Democracy

Sunak and top Tories keeping seats over voter ID confusion would be 'damaging to democracy'

Bonkers Tory ad claims UK is 'second most powerful country in the world'. That's 'hilarious propaganda'
Politics

Bonkers Tory ad claims UK is 'second most powerful country in the world'. That's 'hilarious propaganda'

'Democracy is stronger when more people take part': Voter ID may stop millions from voting in 2024
voter ID
Democracy

'Democracy is stronger when more people take part': Voter ID may stop millions from voting in 2024

'Flags won't feed people': Experts decry growing outrage over Team GB's 'woke' Union Jack flag
Culture wars

'Flags won't feed people': Experts decry growing outrage over Team GB's 'woke' Union Jack flag

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know