Investment and legislation needed to tackle scandal of holiday hunger

Poverty Children chopping food
NewsMay 7th, 2019

The Bevan Foundation has issued a new report in response to the growing scandal of holiday hunger in Wales. ‘Kids on the breadline’ sets out innovative recommendations to address the root causes of holiday hunger.

Every school holiday, thousands of children and their families either skip meals entirely or eat low quality, unhealthy food due to a lack of money. This can have a devastating impact on children’s lives, affecting their health, education and overall wellbeing.

The school holidays make the pressures faced by low-income families much worse. The combination of a loss of free school meals, extra childcare costs and a reduced income as a result of cuts to working hours or benefit changes, mean that many parents struggle to afford regular, nutritious meals – let alone holiday treats.

Some reports put the estimated extra costs faced by families in school holidays at £30 to £40 a week. With the ‘poverty premium’ meaning low-income families already pay more for basics like food, getting a decent diet is a cost that’s getting increasingly hard to meet.

‘Kids on the breadline’ is the culmination of several months’ work which began with our successful Hands up Against Holiday Hunger Christmas appeal and included a seminar with 60 delegates working at the forefront of holiday hunger programmes or services.

There are already some very valuable holiday schemes across Wales, but our report highlights that for every child that attends a scheme ten more go without. Research undertaken by Food Cardiff found that as many as 35 per cent of children who accessed the School Holiday Enrichment Programme (SHEP) reported that they skip a meal on days that they do not attend.

In the report we call for the Welsh Government to step up its action to solve poverty in the longer- term, as well as urging it to take six essential steps:

  1. increase investment in holiday schemes to £4.75 million a year, enabling approximately 16,000 children to benefit
  2. set minimum standards for nutrition, scheme activities, safeguarding and parent / carer involvement
  3. enact legislation to require local authorities to co-ordinate sufficient holiday provision
  4. provide access to emergency financial support to families in school holidays via the Discretionary Assistance Fund
  5. help with budgeting during the holidays with flexible payments e.g. of rent or council tax
  6. in the long term, boost family incomes with a holiday income supplement.

Taken together, these measures will ease the pressures on low income families during the school holidays.

The report would not have been possible without the help of people who supported our Christmas appeal.  As a charity, our work depends on the generosity of individuals and organisations. We’re extremely grateful to John Griffiths AM for sponsoring the launch event, our seminar contributors and sponsors Merthyr Valleys Homes and the South Wales Food Poverty Alliance, and all our Hands up Against Holiday Hunger donors.

We invite anyone who would like to help us progress the solutions set out to get in touch.

Download our Solutions to Holiday Hunger infographic

Bevan Foundation solutions to holiday hunger


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