POLITICS

Charity Says It Can't Meet Demand From Poverty-Stricken Families During Holidays

Millions are struggling without free school meals during the summer.

01/08/2017 17:13
Matt Cardy via Getty Images

A charity supporting children from poorer families says it has been unable to meet demand from those struggling to feed themselves during the school holidays.

Action For Children has been overwhelmed with requests for places on its Holiday Kitchen schemes in some of the most deprived areas in the north of England and Wales.

The twice-weekly sessions offer parents the chance to learn how to cook a healthy meal with their children, from food donated by Tesco through its Fare Share scheme. 

But demand has been so great in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria - where levels of poverty are high - all 40 places have been filled immediately and staff forced to start up waiting lists.

It comes just days after Labour and the Trussell Trust warned millions of families who rely on free school meals during term time could go hungry during the summer holidays.

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Barrow MP John Woodcock says families in his constituency are struggling.

John Egan, Action for Children’s national director in the north of England, said charities are increasingly having to step in during the six-week break.

“We know families struggle during school holidays when support like free school meals just isn’t there,” he added.

“The fact that the Barrow scheme is over-subscribed shows there is a real need for this kind of help.

“We are seeing an increasing demand for charities to step in and provide this kind of lifeline as more and more families are being pushed into poverty.” 

The Trussell Trust, which runs over 420 food banks across the UK, last week revealed demand for emergency food parcels for children rose significantly - by more than 4,000 - last July and August.

 Action for Children is running similar schemes in Powys, where 1,540 children are registered as receiving free school meals.

The government admitted it had failed to carry out any assessment of families who could be a risk of hunger during school holidays.

Barrow MP John Woodcock said: “Locally and across the country there are families who just cannot make ends meet no matter how hard they try.

“As well as the individual suffering in young lives, this depth of deprivation is holding our communities back. It is another reason why we must not further damage jobs and living standards with a hard Brexit that will cause even worse hardship.”

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