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Food banks run out as hungry children on summer holidays have no access to free school meals

One food bank ran out of basic supplies in the first week of the summer holidays

Kenza Bryan
Friday 04 August 2017 10:18 BST
Volunteers at the Trussell Trust's Wandsworth foodbank prepare parcels for guests from their stores of donated food, toiletries and other items
Volunteers at the Trussell Trust's Wandsworth foodbank prepare parcels for guests from their stores of donated food, toiletries and other items (Leon Neal/Getty)

Food banks across the country are coming under pressure as children lose access to free school meals during the summer holidays.

David McAuley, chief executive of anti-poverty charity The Trussell Trust, has warned that some hubs within the 420-strong network are running dangerously low on supplies.

“Rising demand in the summer holidays as families struggle to get by without free school meals” is at the root of the problem, he said.

The Trussell Trust handed out 4,412 more three-day emergency food parcels for children during July and August last year than in the previous two months.

Around one million children currently receive free school meals during term time.

One independent food bank in Wales ran out of basic supplies such as dried pasta and toiletries for the first time at the end of the first week of the summer holidays.

Reverend Chris Lewis, chair of the East Side food bank at Mount Zion Baptist Church, in Swansea, told The Independent that the number of families referred to the food bank last Friday was twice as high as average.

“We got to a critically low level,” he said.

“The absence of free school meals during holidays contributes to a certain amount of hardship and pressure on food banks.

“I wasn’t able to count exactly how many people came in on Friday because I had to go out and get a bag of large potatoes from off site to help with the demand.”

The situation prompted Carolyn Harris, MP for Swansea East and shadow minister for women and equalities, to launch a campaign asking people to bring in bags of food donations to her constituency office.

“It’s nice, as an independent food bank, for someone to notice we’re here at all,” Mr Lewis said.

He added that an increase in asylum seekers and youth homelessness had also led to longer term pressures on the food bank, with a 40 per cent year-on-year increase in referrals.

A Government spokesperson said: “We’re helping millions of families meet the everyday cost of living and keep more of what they earn. We’ve doubled free childcare to help parents into work, and continue to spend over £90bn a year on support for those who need it.

“Budgeting advice and benefit advances are also available for anyone who needs more help.”

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