Food banks cannot be sole solution to holiday hunger

The Trussell Trust has argued that more tonnes of food are distributed in the summer months by foodbanks than were received as donations, creating an unsustainable way of working.

The charity has asked the public to check with their local foodbank what donations are most needed in their local area this summer, with previous summers showing that the level of support needed for children becomes markedly higher. During July and August 2017, The Trussell Trust’s network of over 420 foodbanks provided over 204,525 three day emergency supplies, 74,011 of which went to children.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger estimates that the loss of free school meals during the holidays adds between £30 and £40 a week to parents’ outgoings for one child.

Given the recent upturn in food bank use, the charity is calling for better support for families to be in place throughout the year by unfreezing child benefits and making changes to work allowances so families keep more of their earnings before Universal Credit payments are reduced.

Samantha Stapley, director of Operations at The Trussell Trust, said: “Foodbanks cannot, and must not, be a long term to solution to hunger at any time of year. No one should face going hungry, and although our network will be doing all they can this summer to help families struggling to make the money they have stretch to cover the essentials, no charity can replace people having enough money for the basics.

“There are changes we can make as a nation to help during the holidays, but if we are to protect each other from hunger whatever the time of year, we have to go further than that. We know particular groups of people are most likely to need a foodbank, so let’s make sure no one is swept into destitution. Our benefits system can, and must, act as an anchor to protect people from being pulled into poverty.”

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