Food banks take a hit during the summer holidays as Tories fail us with austerity


Holiday hunger is a stark reality for families all over the country. If you rely on free school meals as a child’s only hot meal of the day, what do you do when they’re off for six weeks?

A family with three children can find themselves struggling to provide an extra 15 meals a week over the summer with the same tight budget they live off for the rest of the year.

When I noticed the link between the summer holidays and shortages at local food banks I put on my apron and kicked off the first of many Kids’ Lunch Clubs.

My constituency team, local businesses and members of the community managed to provide 6,500 meals to kids attending free swim sessions at leisure centres and play schemes.

The Kids’ Lunch Club I started in Swansea East is now in its second year. In one week we’ve provided 1,500 packed lunches and 1,000 hot meals to children there.

Carolyn Harris started The Kids’ Lunch Club in Swansea East

And as well as continuing each summer, we aim to cover other school holidays – if we can secure regular funding.

But all that success is tinged with sadness for me. Sadness because children are going hungry.

Sadness that the Government is failing us with austerity.

Sadness because working families are still relying on the charity of others to avoid going to bed hungry.

Universal Credit was rolled out in Swansea last December and many families struggling to make ends meet are becoming increasingly reliant on food banks.

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Labour politicians are taking action to combat holiday hunger.

My Westminster colleague Emma Lewell-Buck MP will have her Food Insecurity Bill read for the second time later this year – it demands that the Government records statistics on how many people have experienced hunger or haven’t eaten because they can’t afford to eat.

The Welsh Government and Welsh Local Government Association have collaborated on Food and Fun – Bwyd a Hwyl – running in over 50 schools across 16 local authorities, serving breakfast, lunch, healthy eating and activities to approximately 2,500 children.

And Gower MP Tonia Antoniazzi is running a lunch club in her constituency which also provides lunches to children who are missing their free school meals.

We’ve had overwhelming support from Swansea East Labour, businesses like Coastal Housing Group, Boss Brewing, Warburtons, Bidfood, Morrisons, Tesco, Co-op, Admiral, Arvato, The Wave and Swansea Sound radio stations, Dignity funeral care and members of the community who have donated food, funding and time to keep us going.

Alone we do so little. Together we can achieve so much.



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