28 Dec Holiday Hunger – How It Affects Families
The loss of free school meals for low-income families during the school holidays across the UK can be enough to push some families into debt and arrears before they can even feed their children. Some parents and guardians across the UK are even faced with going without meals themselves in order to ensure that their children can at least get something to eat. This has led to a dramatic rise in the number of families and children relying on food banks during the holidays, a rise that food banks are now struggling to manage.
Alongside the reliance on food banks, schools across the country are also having to provide families with financial and debt advice, while teachers have been washing school uniforms for pupils and buying household items for families out of their own pockets.
It has also been found that some pupils haven’t been able to go to school because they can’t afford to buy shoes, and other children are seen wearing their school uniforms at the weekend because they can’t afford other clothes.
Some schools across the country also have had reports from pupils and families that they cannot afford to eat breakfast, prompting some schools to offer free breakfast clubs to pupils eligible for free school meals. The holiday feeding initiatives that have been put in place across the country so far have served as a lifeline for many families by providing not only free, healthy meals but also free activities for children to take part in. This, in turn, allows parents to go to work and not pay for childcare, as it is estimated that it costs an extra £40 to feed a child healthy and balanced meals for a week.
Earlier this year, End Hunger UK published some of these very sobering facts about the extent of ‘Hidden Hunger’ in low-income families:
– Parents of children aged 18 and under are particularly food insecure, with 23% either skipping or seeing someone in their household skipping a meal due to a lack of money, 23% worrying about not having enough food to eat, and 13% going without eating for a whole day in the last 12 months.
– Parents with primary school-age children (aged 5-11) fared worst, with 27% either skipping or seeing someone in their household skipping meals to make ends meet in the last 12 months.
– Over 1 in 10 adults and almost 1 in 4 parents with children aged 18 and under skipping meals because of lack of money.
– Majority of adults (3 in 5) have seen food bills go up in the last 3 months, reflecting higher food inflation.