Social Justice

School Holidays Put 3 Million Kids at Risk of Going Hungry

MPs warn that millions of children in poverty could be left hungry during the school holidays

School children across the country – and very many teachers – are looking forward to the long summer break. But up to 3 million children living in poverty across the UK are vulnerable to going hungry during the school holidays, according to a cross-party panel of MPs and peers.

Members of the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) at Westminster heard evidence from charities that some kids were living on crisps when not at school, and some couldn’t take part in football or other sports because “their bodies simply gave up.”

Members of school staff have noticed some pupils coming back for the new term hungry and sluggish.

The group’s report state one million children depend on school meals, while another two million have parents who work but still live in poverty.

The MPs and peers recommended that money raised from the planned tax on sugary drinks should be ploughed into ensuring children don’t go hungry during school holidays.

They urged the government to ring-fence 10 per cent of the sugar tax – to be introduced next year – to ensure children are fed properly during the holidays. This could cost just £1.50 per child per day.

It would mean that councils would each be given £100,000 for schemes providing “free meals and fun.”

Abolishing hunger during school holidays is beyond the ability of individual community groups and volunteers alone

Labour MP Frank Field, spoke of the “horror of hunger” for some children, and hailed “heroic efforts” by local activists to combat it.

But he said government had to step in to help stamp it out, adding: “Abolishing hunger during school holidays is beyond the ability of individual community groups and volunteers alone.”

Simon Shaw, food poverty campaign co-ordinator at the food and farming alliance Sustain said: “As we said in our submission to the inquiry, the school holidays can be times of great difficulty for families with children experiencing hunger, social isolation and learning loss.”

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