Calls to continue free meals during school holidays
MP Frank Field is asking Parliament to give local councils a duty to feed kids from poorer backgrounds during school holidays.
‘With the school holidays comes a barrage of additional costs which overwhelms families on low incomes,’ Frank Field told Quids in! “Children who go without meals in the holidays then fall even further behind their more fortunate classmates at the beginning of each school term.”
Over 80 MPs have so far backed the School Holidays (Meals and Activities) Bill to ensure families who rely on free school meals do not go hungry outside term time. Campaign groups want to rally more support, asking the public to call on their local MPs to get behind the Bill.
UNICEF reports that one in five children under 15 in the UK are at risk of going hungry. The aim of the Bill is to ensure they receive at least one decent meal and families are freed to stretch their budgets further with household costs.
National School Food Policy Advisor, Lindsay Graham, called on Quids in! readers to: ‘Write as soon as you can to your MP and ask them to support the Bill. Or call your MPs office and leave a message or tweet them using #HolidayProvisionBill. If they have a Facebook page, post a message there asking for support.’
Many holiday projects run on a volunteer basis from place to place across the country, providing free meals and fun for local children. Frank Field says these projects have proved ‘what a huge difference can be made to children’s physical and mental health, as well as their ability to learn, by a programme of free meals and fun during the holidays.’
‘The Bill I am presenting,’ he added, ‘would for the first time introduce a national commitment to ensure no child is hungry during the holidays.’
Deborah Harrison is coordinator for the North East Child Poverty Commission. She added: ‘The school holidays can be a difficult time. The extra cost of meals, transport and summer activities can leave some families struggling to make ends meet.
‘While there are already many fantastic holiday clubs, they often rely on food donations and volunteers. The aim of the Bill is to create a national commitment to providing free meals and activities during the school holidays across every local authority, with the funding to make sure every child can benefit.
‘We want to improve children’s physical and mental health, and make sure they head back to school in September ready to learn and with happy summer memories.’