Food Banks Struggle To Support Families During The School Holidays
The Law Of… Stopping Children From Going Hungry
In a matter of days since the school holidays began, some food banks have already reported running out of basic supplies.
Samantha Hale, Associate Solicitor specialising in Education Law, looks at this issue.
Why Are Children At A Greater Risk Of Going Hungry During The School Holidays?
Demand for supplies from food banks has been increasing over the past year, with more families asking for help in July and August, following the end of the school term.
In 2016, the Trussell Trust reported that it experienced a 10% increase in the number of people asking for help during the school holidays.
5,185 3-day emergency supplies were also given to families during this time frame – a shocking increase from the 4,733 items distributed in May and June 2016.
Another food bank, Eastside, also reported running out of everyday items such as toiletries and pasta – this is the first time this has happened since it opened its doors in 2013.
According to Samantha Stapley, operations manager for England at the Trussell Trust, figures have shown that "five- to 11-year-olds are more likely than other children to receive a food bank's help."
Currently, the Government funds free school meals for infants. "It's therefore not a surprise that families with infant-aged pupils are more likely to receive help from a food bank as these families ordinarily do not have to provide food for their child during the school day", Samantha Hale explains.
"For some families, the additional cost of providing these lunches – for 6 weeks – will be too much and they will have no choice but to rely on a food bank."
What Can Be Done To Help?
Talking about the issue to the BBC, a spokesperson from the Department of Work and Pensions suggested that "Employment remains the best route out of poverty."
But, research from the Trussell Trust shows that those who are unemployed account for the smallest group of users of food banks.
"The largest group of people using food banks is in fact those who are employed and on low incomes", Samantha points out.
"It's therefore unfair for the Department of Work and Pensions to make this comment as these statistics prove that working families are more likely to rely on food banks if they are on a low income than if they were unemployed."
Food banks are pleading with people to make donations to their local centres during the school holidays, to avoid more centres running out of supplies like Swansea.
"Even if it's a small donation, the support you give food banks could be life-changing for the many families out there who are struggling to keep food on their tables."
"Raising awareness of this is really important, and it's a good idea to think outside of the box when it comes to making donations. For example, one of our colleagues recently asked us to make donations to her local food bank instead of buying her leaving gifts."
"The team collected 73kg of food, which is the equivalent of 3 food parcels for 3 large families. Each parcel is for 3 days of emergency food, which is desperately needed by so many."