Frank Field MP
Your MP for Birkenhead
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Cross-party group of MPs and Peers uncovers horror of hunger amongst children during school holidays

25 April 2017
Food bank

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger today publishes a blueprint for the elimination of hunger amongst children during school holidays.

The Group reports that:

- up to an estimated three million children risk being hungry during school holidays, with food banks and teachers reporting holiday hunger to be a significant and growing problem;
- some children have vomited or had to drop out of holiday football tournaments because their bodies simply gave up on them. They had not eaten a proper meal in the days beforehand;
- there are parents on low incomes who are staving off hunger with dinners consisting of flavoured water or cereal, in a last ditch attempt to feed their children as best as they possibly can during school holidays;
- those children who exist on an impoverished diet, while taking part in little or no activity, in the holidays return to school malnourished, sluggish, and dreary – some even lose ‘significant’ amounts of weight, while others gain a lot of weight; and
- this group of children start the new term several weeks, if not months, intellectually behind their more fortunate peers who have enjoyed a more wholesome diet and lots of activity during school holidays.

The Group calls on each of the political parties to commit themselves in their General Election manifesto to use a tenth of the monies that will be raised from the sugary drinks levy for ‘healthy pupil’ projects, to fund a national programme of free meals and fun during school holidays. This would give every local authority a budget of £100,000 with which to counter holiday hunger. Under the Group’s proposals, local authorities would be given a statutory duty to team up with voluntary, private, and public sector organisations to achieve this objective.

The Group’s Chair, Frank Field MP, comments that: ‘The evidence presented in this report is staggering. It shows us that not only are there children in this country who are exposed to hunger when they are not at school, but also that this exposure risks damaging their prospects of gaining a good education and living a healthy life.

‘People of goodwill in a number of communities are showing how holiday hunger can be overcome. They are transforming children’s and parents’ lives for the better. It is from this collective strength of churches, community groups, businesses, schools and public bodies that a national effort to eliminate holiday hunger can, and must, be initiated.’ 

‘Abolishing hunger during school holidays is beyond the ability of individual community groups and volunteers alone. It needs, above all, a government lead in giving local authorities duties to convene churches, community groups, businesses, schools and public bodies in their area; and allocating a top slice of the sugary drinks levy to fund each local authority with a £100,000 grant to abolish school holiday hunger.’

You can read the report by clicking here.


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