LETTER OF THE WEEK: County children forced to deal with holiday hunger

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Plate, knife and fork''Ref 080416P-B

Thousands of children across Northamptonshire have broken up for the summer holidays.

They should be looking forward to a fun-filled few weeks.

Instead a great many families are facing the anxiety and injustice of holiday hunger, trying to make ends meet.

Successive governments have long recognised that many children should receive free school meals, to help families to overcome poverty.

However, children need that guaranteed daily nutrition all year round – not just on the 170 days they are at school.

The national End Hunger Campaign point out that holiday hunger affects children throughout the UK, and that government should step up to the plate and take action on it.

A report released by UNICEF this year found that one in 10 children in the UK are in households suffering from “severe food insecurity”. This is the highest level in the EU.

A recent report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger pointed out that as many as three million children in the UK who are entitled to free school meals have no such provision on the 170 days a year in which they are not in school.

There are some grassroots projects around the country doing fantastic work to help fill the void, but cover is sporadic and something more comprehensive and sustainable is required.

If the Government is to improve the lives, welfare and opportunities of children here in Northamptonshire and all over the UK, then it must commit to providing a solution now.

I hope fellow readers will join me in writing to our local MPs to ask them to back the End Hunger UK campaign, so families can enjoy the school holidays rather than dreading them.

Rachel McGrath

On behalf of Northamptonshire Food Poverty Network