As kids celebrate six weeks off school, many parents worry they’ll go hungry

Boxes of food at a food bank
Fréa Lockley

Schools around the UK are breaking up for the summer holidays. But for many families, this brings a new challenge as many simply can’t afford to eat. New figures from the Trussell Trust foodbank network show that demand soared 20% last summer. And this year, it expects to see the “busiest summer ever”.

“My meals for the week…”

The Trussell Trust found that in 2018, “87,496 food parcels went to children in the UK during the summer holidays”. This was a 20% increase “on the same period in 2017”. As it noted, holidays place extra financial pressure on families who are eligible for free school meals in term time.

Against a 19% rise in people needing to use foodbanks in 2018-19, it’s concerned “that this summer will be the… busiest to date”.

Chief executive of the Trussell Trust Emma Revie said:

Food banks will do all they can to help families over the summer… But no charity can replace the dignity of having enough money for the basics…

She also pointed out that foodbanks “cannot, and must not, be a long term solution to poverty”. Because as Revie noted:

Every family should have enough money coming in for a decent standard of living. No child should face going hungry in the UK.

One Twitter user shared an image that shows the stark reality for families who are forced to use food banks:

Record high

In April, the Trussell Trust revealed that foodbank use in the UK hit a record high. It handed out 1,583,668 three-day emergency food packages from April 2018 to March 2019. Over half a million (577,618) of these went to children. It noted that this “is an 18.8% increase on the previous year”. And over the past five years, the number of food parcels handed out across the UK rose 73%.

The charity has also been conducting research into the impact of Universal Credit and food bank use:

Meanwhile, others noted that as Theresa May prepares to leave office, these shocking figures highlight the true legacy of her time as prime minister:

And the soaring figures also foreground the shocking levels of inequality in the UK. While millions of people are forced to use foodbanks, the wealthy peers in the House of Lords “are gorging on tax payer funded fine wines & cuisine”:

As the summer holidays start, the fact that so many families don’t know how they’ll cope is a shocking indictment of nine years of Tory-led cuts and austerity. No parent should ever need to worry that they can’t afford to feed their child. No child should ever have to go hungry. We need to rise up together to demand change and equality now so that children and their families don’t starve.

Featured image via Fréa Lockley

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    1. It’s difficult to blame the Conservatives here. After all, who elected them? British people, by the millions. And what were the governments before them? Both Labour and Conservative, since 1979, elected on platforms of reduced government spending.

      Face it: austerity is hugely popular. Until that is overcome, governments will continue to impose it on the poor. The attempts by Jeremy Corbyn to turn the tide have been met by a huge wave of opposition by the media, including The Guardian. A wide, grass-roots movement towards socialism and away from capitalism is needed, not only to end austerity but to mitigate climate disaster.

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