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Food banks appeal for donations ahead of expected rise in demand from hungry children over summer holidays

Trussell Trust says increase due to lack of access to free school meals

Tom Embury-Dennis
Friday 03 August 2018 16:25 BST
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More than a third of food distributed by its network throughout the year goes to children, but there is extra financial pressure to provide main meals during the school holidays
More than a third of food distributed by its network throughout the year goes to children, but there is extra financial pressure to provide main meals during the school holidays (Getty)

Britain’s biggest network of food banks has appealed for donations owing to an increasing demand from families during the summer holidays.

The Trussell Trust, an anti-poverty charity, said a rise in the number of children using food banks in July and August 2017 was driven by a lack of access to free school meals outside term time.

The charity revealed its 420 food banks provided more than 204,000 three-day emergency supplies last summer, 74,000 of which went to children, 3,500 more than in May and June.

More than a third of food distributed by its network throughout the year goes to children, the trust said, but there is extra financial pressure to provide main meals during the school holidays.

Last summer more food was distributed by the trust than was donated, prompting it to ask the public to help out this year.

Samantha Stapley, director of operations, said food banks were not a long-term solution to hunger at any time.

Jacob Rees-Mogg: The growing use of food banks in the UK is “rather uplifting”

“No one should face going hungry and, although our network will be doing all they can this summer to help families struggling to make the money they have stretch to cover the essentials, no charity can replace people having enough money for the basics,” she said.

“There are changes we can make as a nation to help during the holidays, but if we are to protect each other from hunger whatever the time of year, we have to go further than that.

“We know particular groups of people are most likely to need a food bank, so let’s make sure no one is swept into destitution.

“Our benefits system can, and must, act as an anchor to protect people from being pulled into poverty.”

Margaret Greenwood, shadow work and pensions secretary, said: “It is a scandal that this summer, thousands of families are having to rely on food banks to stave off hunger.

“Child poverty in the UK shows no sign of slowing down; over 4 million children are growing up in poverty and that number is set to rise sharply over this parliament as a direct result of government policies.

“The government needs to take stock of the impact that its social security policies are having on the health and wellbeing of children.”

A government spokesperson said: “We are committed to supporting families to improve their lives, and employment remains the best route to achieve that.

“We recently announced a £2m fund for organisations to support disadvantaged families during the school holidays, which can include providing healthy meals.

“Meanwhile, we have a record employment rate, household incomes have never been higher and there are 300,000 fewer children living in absolute poverty than in 2010.”

Additional reporting by PA

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