Call for donations as charity reveals rise in food for children is behind increased foodbank need during holidays

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An increase in demand for emergency food for children drove increased foodbank need during the summer holidays last year, new data published by anti-poverty charity The Trussell Trust shows today.

Last year the number of supplies given to adults decreased slightly in the summer months, whereas the level of support needed for children was 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. In comparison, during May and June 2017 70,510 supplies went to children.*

Over a third of all food distributed by the foodbank network throughout the year goes to children, but there is extra financial pressure to provide main meals during the school holidays for families who rely on free school meals during term time. Last year’s report from The All Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger estimated the loss of free school meals during the holidays adds between £30 and £40 a week to parents’ outgoings.**

During the summer months of 2017, more tonnes of food were distributed by foodbanks in The Trussell Trust’s network than were received as donations, and this – combined with a recent upturn in foodbank use – has prompted the charity to ask the public check with their local foodbank what donations are most needed in their local area this summer.

Whilst these donations are vital for meeting immediate need during the holidays, the charity warns foodbanks cannot be long-term solution and has called for better support to be in place all-year round to protect people from hunger.

Samantha Stapley, Director of Operations at The Trussell Trust, explains:

“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.” 

Across the UK this summer there will be a range of different projects aiming to support families, from holiday clubs run by foodbanks in The Trussell Trust’s network, to council-run projects in Scotland, Welsh government funding for schemes in Wales, and the Department for Education’s recently announced pilot, which will fund existing holiday provision in England.

Against this backdrop of practical responses, The Trussell Trust is urging policy makers not to lose sight of the underlying issues that leave families needing foodbanks at any time of year. 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.

The Trussell Trust’s policy briefing on families, hunger and the holidays is available here.



Emma Thorogood, Media Manager: [email protected] / 020 3745 5982

Notes to Editor

*In total during July and August 2017, 204,525 three day emergency food supplies were provided to people in crisis, compared to 202,031 in May and June of the same year. Of these,

  • 130,514 supplies went to adults in July and August compared to 131,521 in May and June 2017
  • 74,011 supplies went to children in July and August compared to 70,150 in May and June 2017

1,649 tonnes of food were donated to The Trussell Trust’s network in July and August 2017. During the same period 1,813 tonnes of food were distributed by foodbanks in the network to people referred for emergency support.

**This figure is taken from the All Party Parliamentary Group’s report into hunger during the holidays, which states: “the loss of free school meals adds between £30 and £40 per week to parents’ outgoings during school holidays, although this figure will, of course, increase if there is a greater number of children to be fed.”  (P. 19) As it is unclear whether this relates to £30-40 per child or £30-40 per family, we have amended the copy above to refer to parents’ outgoings across the family, per week.

About The Trussell Trust:

  • The Trussell Trust is an anti-poverty charity that runs a network of 428 foodbanks across the UK.
  • It is simply not acceptable that so many people in the UK face hunger, and we won’t sit by whilst increasing numbers of people are expected to hit crisis and need a foodbank’s help. We’re determined to create long term change, challenging the structural issues that lock people into poverty and seeing an end to the need for foodbanks.
  • Whilst we work towards this, we’re committed to ensure everyone referred to a foodbank in our network receives the best possible support, so we help foodbanks to offer much more than food: volunteers are supported to provide a listening ear and help resolve the underlying cause of crisis either through signposting onto relevant local charities or providing on-site immediate support, such as money advice and budget cookery courses.
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