Last week, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger reported on the ‘growing problem’ for young people going hungry in the school holidays. Up to three million children in the UK are said to be affected.
Families find themselves under added pressure during the school holidays, with the loss of free school meals, additional childcare costs and funding for activities. According to the report, the loss of free school meals adds £30-£40 per week for each child.
The report highlighted concerns about children returning to school, ‘malnourished, sluggish and dreary and therefore, falling behind their peers.
APPG’s chairman, MP Frank Field, called the findings ‘staggering.’ Not only are children in the fifth richest country being ‘exposed to hunger…this exposure risks damaging their prospects of gaining a good education and living a healthy life.
Evidence revealed that where parents could not afford meals, some young people were fed cereal or flavoured water and some were forced to drop out of sporting commitments due to lack of fuel and energy; ‘their bodies simply gave up on the them.’
The figure also addresses the two million children who are living in poverty, but do not qualify for free school meals. Parents and carers on zero hour contracts are also left vulnerable to the added strain. An ‘increased number’ of families are relying in food banks.
The group has urged the government to use funding from the sugary drinks levy to combat the issue and has called for it to become statutory for councils to run holiday schemes for ‘free meals and fun.’ A £100,000 allocation from the sugar tax would allow councils to work with the community to provide according to local needs.
In response, the Department for Work and Pensions stated that the ‘the number of children growing up in workless families is at a record low and that official data on the issue ‘does not exist.’
Are there provisions within your school’s local community for low-income families? Should funding from the levy be used to fund services?
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Jemma, is our Project Co-Ordinator here at Athona and is also a qualified teacher. During Jemma’s teaching career, she held the responsibility of Teaching and Learning Leader for key stage 3 English and was a mentor to a number of trainee teachers. Jemma spends her time regularly writing topical and latest industry blog posts and is the main point of contact for our international candidates. More recently, Jemma has been coordinating the training we provide to our teachers and schools.