Food banks helping families facing the holiday hunger this summer
The children are off school for six long weeks and for some parents that could fill them with financial dread, knowing they have extra mouths to feed instead of getting the free school meals.
Holiday hunger can be a real worry for parents, but help is on hand to make sure families do not have to go with out.
National research by Tesco and the food banks charity the Trussell Trust found 70 per cent of families suffering from food poverty with children in primary school education rely in some part on food supplied by schools, either through free school meals or food given out by breakfast or after-school clubs.
Twenty per cent of parents have skipped meals, gone without food to feed their children or relied on family members or friends.
Both High Peak Foodbank and New Mills Helping Hands Foodbank are available for those in food poverty.
During the school holiday period of July to September last year, the number of adults who received a food parcel from High Peak Foodbank was 187, and the number of families helped was 43 including 54 children.
Throughout the whole of the year 1,200 family food parcels were delivered.
As the donations are delivered confidentially and discreetly, a volunteer for the New Mills charity was willing to talk but not be named to maintain trust in the service.
She said: “We have only been going three-and-a-half years and coupled with our rural location we have not yet seen if there is a pattern for summer seasonal demand.
“It is very important that people ask for help if they feel they are struggling and we can make a food parcel to meet their needs.”
Referral to both of the food banks can be done by individuals or via local service providers such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, a GP or social worker.
The volunteer added: “We hope and pray for the day when food banks will no longer be required.
“We are not a solution to food poverty and should be used only as a stepping stone to a more permanent solution.
“We therefore encourage clients, working with a referring agency, to utilise the time they are on the food programme to good advantage.”
Derbyshire County Council is working with organisations which run clubs or activity schemes to help support vulnerable children at risk of going hungry during the school holidays as part of its £528,550 ‘Feeding Derbyshire’ project.
Councillor for health and communities, Dave Allen, said: “Holiday hunger is a problem we see in vulnerable and low income families who may struggle to meet the additional costs of feeding their children when they’re off school.
“In Derbyshire more than 9,000 children are eligible for free school meals and these children are particularly at risk, which is why we’re taking action to support them.”
School holidays equate to around 170 days per year when children can miss out on meals.
The holiday hunger scheme aims to link with existing summer clubs and play schemes to offer children social opportunities such as games, reading and other activities as well as a free, healthy meal.
Councillor Allen added: “School holidays should be a happy time for children to relax and have fun, but for some this is not the case as their parents struggle to afford food let alone pay for social activities and trips out.
Groups or organisations that run holiday clubs or summer activity schemes for young people, and would like to help tackle holiday hunger, can contact Derbyshire County Council public health manager Jane Hicken on 01629 537675 or email [email protected]
A tasty meal at a bargain price
The Foodie Friends cafe, which meets at St George’s Parish Hall in New Mills, is social eating environment which provides a three-course meal made from surplus food from supermarkets at a heavily discounted rate, and £2.50 is the suggested donation although concessions are available.
Katy-Lou Evans is involved with the cafe. She said: “This is not a food bank project, but if people are struggling to make ends meet they can pop along and enjoy a meal cooked by someone else at a really reasonable price and not worry about the washing up.”
July was the second monthly meeting of the cafe and 150 people turned up.
Katy-Lou said: “We ran out of food. It was really phenomenal to see so many people there.”
Supplies come from national charity FareShare which uses surplus supermarket food which would otherwise be thrown away.
On the menu last month was soup, chicken chasseur, Mexican beans, stuffed aubergine and mushrooms along with lots of salad.
Katy-Lou added: “We never know what we are going to get until two days before, so the menu will always be a surprise.”