Sharon has pledged to tackle children going hungry during the school holidays.
Attending the launch of charity Feeding Britain’s new report, Ending Hunger in the Holidays, Sharon showed her support for the upcoming School Holidays (Meals and Activities) Bill, which has been put forward by Frank Field MP and has cross party support.
The Bill would give local authorities the legal duty to ensure that children can have free food and fun activities during the holidays to support their educational attainment and health. The Bill would also bring extra resources for holidays clubs funded by money recouped from the Sugary Drinks Levy.
“I have long campaigned on the issue of children’s health, well-being and education, and the importance of feeding children properly so they can achieve their full potential and believe we need to be doing more to address the issue of hunger in our society.
“For the 5th richest economy in the world, it is deeply saddening that our 21st century society harks back to one from a Dickensian-era, where children go hungry for extended periods of time without any support or action from authorities to protect children – as is their duty.
“That is why I am fully behind this Bill, as it will help take us one step closer to ending child hunger and I will make sure I am in Parliament to help see this legislation through to its next stages.”
Feeding Britain’s report reveals that in excess of 187,000 meals were provided to children in the summer and during October half term holidays this year, but stresses that this is only a drop in the ocean compared to the level of need.
The report concludes: “Holiday clubs provide an urgently needed safety net to protect children from hunger and social isolation, but an incomplete one, and one that is increasingly strained.”
The report highlights the importance of holidays clubs, which protect children and their families from hunger and social isolation in the holidays, boost children’s health and learning, and to help prevent children falling behind their more affluent peers during the holidays.
Recent research done by Northumbria University in the North East showed that children from poorer backgrounds see a stagnation or reduction in spelling skills over the summer holidays, and take several weeks to recover lost learning.
The Feeding Britain report Ending Hunger in the Holidays, can be downloaded from www.feeding-britain.org.