Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for School Food, has hit out at the Government over their failure to address child hunger during the summer holidays after a damning report researched by YouGov for Kelloggs showed more than six out of ten parents with household incomes of less than £25,000 said they weren’t always able to afford to buy food outside of term time.
As Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for School Food, Sharon has made it the group’s priority during this Parliament to address holiday hunger and set up a "Holiday Hunger Task Group" chaired by Lindsay Graham, author of the Winston Churchill Memorial Fund report "170 Days", which recently held a conference at Sheffield Hallam University to launch the "Filling the Holiday Gap" guidelines for organisations providing community holiday time meals for children.
Speaking after the publication of the report, Sharon commented:
“Whilst the roll-out of universal infant free school meals has helped address child hunger during term time and will have a positive impact on child health and educational outcomes, it is now important that this Government works on addressing hunger during the school holidays. As this report clearly shows this is an extremely stressful time for families on low-incomes.
“Teachers across the country know full well when children from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds leave for the summer holidays they will return back to school in the autumn malnourished and behind their peers in terms of their educational attainment. Food banks also report increased usage over the school holidays.
“Instead of washing their hands of this growing issue here in the UK, the Government must do more to make sure that parents don’t struggle to feed their children during the holidays which will reverse the positive work seen during term time to improve educational and health outcomes of children, along with child well-being. Children need access to food and activity support during the holidays, while working parents need childcare and that is what the APPG has been advocating.”
About the APPGSF
The All-Party Parliamentary Group for School Food (APPGSF) is a formal cross-party group of MPs and Peers who share an interest in improving the quality and provision of food in school settings. The APPG was set up during the 2010 – 2015 Parliament and was recently reconstituted in this Parliament. The Association for Public Service Excellence provides the secretariat to the Group.
The Officers of the Group include: Sharon Hodgson MP (Chair), Roberta Blackman-Woods MP (Vice-Chair), Diana Johnson MP (Vice-Chair), Ruth Smeeth MP (Vice-Chair), Amanda Solloway MP (Vice-Chair), John Glenn MP (Vice-Chair).
"Filling the Holiday Gap"
After the launch of the APPG on Hunger and Food Poverty’s "Feeding Britain" report, the APPGSF established the "Holiday Hunger Task Group", an expert panel of academics, specialists and children's, health and nutrition organisations, to produce guidance to be used by holiday providers who want to have food provision as part of their holiday programme.
You can find out more about the work of the Task Group and the guidelines on the website: http://www.fillingtheholidaygap.co.uk
"170 Days’ Report"
You can find a link to Lindsay Graham’s "170 Days" report here: http://www.wcmt.org.uk/sites/default/files/report-documents/Graham%20L%20Report%202014.pdf