THE BLOG

Children Are Going Hungry This Summer

03/08/2017 11:50 BST | Updated 03/08/2017 11:50 BST

It is disgraceful that in this modern era we are talking about children across the UK going hungry during the six-week summer holidays.

For a country said to have the fifth largest economy in the world, it is astonishing that millions of families, struggling to make ends meet, are each day facing the difficult choice of paying the bills or putting food on the table.

Many of these children would normally get at least one decent meal a day while at school but hunger doesn't take a holiday when schools do. And in the absence of those free school meals, children have been found to be living on a diet of crisps alone, making them vulnerable to malnutrition.

This was highlighted in a report by the House of Commons All Party Group on Hunger that reported up to three million children nationally are at risk during the school holidays, both those on free school meals and those with poorer working parents who are unable to meet the extra food costs of children being at home all day. It found children were returning to school hungry and unable to learn after the summer holidays.

This was backed up more recently by a report by the Trussell Trust, which runs a 400-strong network of foodbanks across the country, showing an increase in the number of food parcels being given to families with children during the summer.

The statistics reveal devastatingly high levels of hunger and desperation but it is important to remember each number tells the story of an individual child in need.

These are children who will spend the summer stalked by hunger, youngsters whose futures are in jeopardy.

Britain has experienced an extended period of austerity and in harder times it is always the most vulnerable in society who suffer most.

This is where charities like Action for Children step in. We are running free school holiday meal schemes in some of the most deprived areas in the UK such as Cumbria and Wales but even we are struggling to meet the demand in these areas.

Our scheme in Barrow-in-Furness teaches families how to cook decent meals, with the food provided by Tesco, and then enjoy a meal together. This brilliant programme is already oversubscribed and it is sadly only scratching the surface for those suffering hunger this summer.

We are doing our best but there's only so much charities like Action for Children can do to plug the gap.

Clearly more needs to be done on a national level, urgently, to address this shocking situation. And it needs to be done now.

Something the Government needs to think about seriously as MPs enjoy their long summer holidays.

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