Report on ‘holiday hunger’

Date: 2nd May 2017
Category: Social security

Children at risk of hunger over the summer include more than 1 million children who receive free school meals during term time and 2 million more with working parents who are still in poverty. The holidays leaves them vulnerable to malnutrition and undermines their education and life chances.

Frank Field MP established the APPG on Hunger and Food Poverty with Laura Sandys MP in October 2013, in order to proactively investigate the root causes behind hunger, food poverty and the huge increase in demand for food banks across Britain. The group renamed itself the APPG on Hunger in 2015.

The APPG's officers conducted a short inquiry between February and April 2017 on the extent and causes of hunger amongst children during school holidays, the report of which has now been published.

The report has found that the life chances of up to three million children in the UK are under threat due to their risk of going hungry during school holidays, published by a cross-party group of Westminster MPs and peers.
Children in Scotland submitted evidence to the report based on its own research and findings from its Food, Families, Futures project which was piloted last summer. Their key points, included in the 'Hungry Holiday's' report, contextualised holiday hunger in the wider issue of poverty and its impact on children. They were:

  • High childcare costs are one of the key issues affecting parents on low income in particular, and form a major barrier to taking up employment or increasing hours worked by many parents;
  • Going to school hungry and struggling through the long school holidays not only impacts children's happiness and wellbeing, it severely limits their mental and physical development with long-lasting and wide-ranging consequences. They are most likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes, obesity and to have a healthy life expectancy of 23 years less than their most affluent counterparts;

Children in Scotland Chief Executive Jackie Brock said:

"We welcome publication of this report and hope that it contributes to further raising the profile of food poverty - and awareness of its severe impact on children - at UK level.

"Children in Scotland knows from piloting our Food, Families Futures project in Dalmarnock and Ibrox primaries last summer that an approach to tackling holiday hunger which is community-led and designed at a local level, with the school at its heart, can make a genuine difference to families."

"We have started discussions about the expansion of the project across Scotland which will not only help families but also provide further evidence of what can be achieved with this approach. We will be providing more details on this soon."