Progress on solutions to holiday hunger

NewsFebruary 11th, 2019

We’re delighted to report that our seminar on Solutions to Holiday Hunger last week was a huge success.

We welcomed around 60 delegates to Theatr Soar in Methyr, all working at the forefront of holiday hunger programmes or services concerned with food poverty.

Highlighting the bigger picture

Food security expert Lindsay Graham opened the discussion with an eye-opening look at the shocking extent of food insecurity across the UK:

  • 19% of under 15s are living in food insecure households
  • 5.8 million children are living in homes below the minimum income standard
  • 2.1 million families are worse off on Universal Credit

Drawing on her personal experience of food poverty, Lindsay emphasised that we need to do more to understand the prevalence of food insecurity and its far-reaching efffects, such as poor health, behavioural problems and shame.

Lindsay outlined the wealth of projects that have been established to address the problem, but highlighted that for every 1 child that has benefitted from a holiday provision programme, there are 8 who haven’t. She stated it was vital that any schemes designed to alleviate holiday hunger should be seeking to provide long term solutions.

Quoting Jorg Drager, Lindsay emphasised that children in poverty cannot change their own living situation by themselves; the government has a responsibility to step in.

Next up was Hayley Richards of the South Wales Food Poverty Alliance, whose report on Food Poverty in south Wales was launched the same day.

Hayley outlined the report’s main findings, explaining that 750,000 people in Wales currently live in relative poverty after paying housing costs, a fifth of workers in Wales are paid less than the real Living Wage, and recipients of Universal Credit have to undergo a 5 week wait at present. Hayley reiterated Lindsay’s words saying that if we do not want food banks to become a part of day to day Welsh life, we need to consider how we support low income families beyond the short-term provision of food.

She then summarised the report’s key calls to action, namely:

  • measure food insecurity better
  • pay more people a living wage
  • provide greater support to manage universal credit issues
  • develop a holistic plan to get children well fed and nourished
  • secure ongoing funding for the holiday enrichment programme.

Exploring different approaches

In the second session, Katie Palmer of Food Sense Wales introduced us to the School Holiday Enrichment Programme which aims to address the problem of holiday hunger. She talked about the link between good food, health and education, and stated that we must aspire to equality of aspiration in our school leavers.

Public Health Diatetics’ Emma Holmes talked about how the ‘Nutrition skills for life’ programme has supported the programme. She stressed the importance of nutritional meal provision in reducing health inequalities by explaining that people on a low income are impacted more by rising food prices and have a higher prevalence of diet-related conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and certain cancers.

Thomas Clarke of Sport Cardiff, who became a sports coach after facing his own struggles at school, talked about the benefits of the sport and physical activity provided by the School Holiday Enrichment Programme – building confidence, forming friendships and addressing behavioural issues were among the most significant.

Bonnie Kemble of Herbert Thompson Primary School rounded off the presentation with an insight into the role the school have been playing in delivering the School Holiday Enrichment Programme and the impact its had on pupils.

We then heard from representatives of 3 community schemes:

Cherrie Bija of Faith in Families talked about the impact their ‘Community Cwtches’ groups are having in Swansea with a focus on fun. She also raised concerns about the number of children not accessing free school meal provision.

Hayley Broad of Merthyr Valley Homes talked through their holiday hamper scheme which aims to mitigate against the £30-40 per week families need to provide an additional two meals a day per child in the holidays.

Finally, Sam Froud Powell talked about the pilot Your Local Community Pantry being run by Action in Caerau and Ely (ACE). An alternative to foodbank parcels, this innovative membership scheme involves recipients paying a small fee of £3.50 a week and being able to shop for and select the items they receive.

Meeting the challenges and developing solutions

Following a short break, Lindsay Graham set the scene for some thought-provoking and constructive roundtable discussion to explore what good holiday provision looks likes and how it can be achieved. There was also broad agreement on some key factors that needed to be in place; the need to plan ahead and to involve the community and partner organisations at all opportunities, the need for schemes to be welcoming, minimising stigma for families who benefited from any programmes, and the need for all schemes to promote long term independence so that families do not have to become dependent on food banks and holiday hunger support schemes in the long-term.

Victoria Winckler then took the discussion beyond food, asking what could be done to end holiday hunger and how.

We’ll shortly be incorporating the results of our roundtable discussions into a report with our full recommendations of who needs to take what action to resolve holiday hunger for good.

We’d like to thank all our speakers and our sponsors Merthyr Valleys Homes and the South Wales Food Poverty Alliance, as well as our Hands up Against Holiday Hunger donors for making this seminar firstly possible and secondly productive.

As an independent think tank, we rely on the generosity of individuals and organisations. If you’d like to support the continued progress of our Holiday Hunger and other vital projects, please consider making a regular donation. You can give as little as £3.25 a month, and in return you’ll receive copies of our insightful supporters’ magazine, discounts on future training and thought leadership events and other valuable resources.

Your wider organisation might also benefit from becoming a Bevan Foundation subscriber. For just £21.67 a month, you can gain unique insights and access research to support your work, showcase your organisation and reach Wales’ decision-makers and benefit from discounted training and networking opportunities.

Support us today


Search and filter the archive using any of the following fields:

  • Choose Type:

  • Choose Focus:

  • Choose Tag: