The UK’s leading network of food banks has issued a call for more donations from members of the public during the school summer holidays.
The Trussell Trust has published new data from the summer holidays last year that shows a huge spike in demand from families who rely on free school meals during term time.
While adults needing supplies during the summer fell in 2017, the level of support needed for children was “markedly higher,” it said.
“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,” said Samantha Stapley, the trust’s director of operations, in a statement warning that food banks shouldn’t be a long-term solution to hunger.
“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,” she said.
“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,” Stapley said. “Our benefits system can, and must, act as an anchor to protect people from being pulled into poverty.”
Over one-third of all food distributed by the charity’s network of 428 food banks during the course of the year goes to children. But there is extra financial pressure for parents to provide main meals for their children during the holidays.
In fact, a report on hunger published by the All Party Parliamentary Group last year estimated the loss of free school meals during the holidays costs parents between £30 and £40 extra a week per child.
In May and June 2017, the Trussell Trust provided over 131,520 three-day emergency supplies for adults. That fell to 130,500 during July and August.
No one should face hunger at any time of year. Last summer, the rise in emergency food provided to children drove increased use of #foodbanks in our network - you can read the latest figures here >> https://t.co/542dqBadvd— The Trussell Trust (@TrussellTrust) August 3, 2018
In May and June 2017, it provided supplies to over 70,500 children. But that rose to over 74,000 during July and August.
According to the Trust, more tonnes of food were also distributed by food banks during the summer months of 2017, than were received as donations.
While the Trust received more than 1,600 tonnes of food in July and August 2017, it distributed over 1,800 tonnes of food for emergency support during the same period.
That’s prompted the charity’s call to the public to check which items were most needed at their local food bank.
There are also a range of different projects available across the country to support families during the summer holidays, including holiday clubs run by the Trust’s food banks, and council-run projects.
A spokesperson for the government told the Guardian: “We are committed to supporting families to improve their lives and employment remains the best route to achieve that. We recently announced a £2 million fund for organisations to support disadvantaged families during the school holidays, which can include providing health meals.”