Lancaster City Council urges action on holiday hunger

Lancaster City Council has backed calls to tackle growing concern for ‘holiday hunger’.

Holiday hunger occurs when families who are usually entitled to free school meals during term time have that provision taken away during school holidays.  This is most acute during the long summer holidays with an extra cost to families affected of an average of £30 to £40 per week to feed their children.

A parliamentary bill is calling for a legal duty on local authorities to ensure meals continue to be provided outside of term time. This would be paid for by earmarking 10p from every pound raised from the sugar tax on soft drinks.

Last Wednesday (November 15) city councillors passed a motion supporting the bill and is also encouraging other local authorities to throw their support behind the campaign.

The full text of the motion passed by council reads:

“The Council is concerned at reports by teachers’ unions and others concerning the growth of “holiday hunger” amongst children.

Holiday hunger occurs when families who are usually entitled to free school meals during term time have that provision taken away during school holidays.  This is most acute during the long summer holidays with an extra cost to families affected of an average of £30 to £40 per week to feed their children.

This Council notes:

1.      A survey led by the NUT (National Union of Teachers) found that as many as four in five staff reported a rise in “holiday hunger” over the past two years.  78% of teachers polled said that they recognised children arriving at school hungry.  More than a third went as far as to say that pupils were returning after the school holidays showing signs of malnutrition.

2.      That Mark Hendrick MP has sponsored a Private members’ Bill by Frank Field MP which places a legal duty on local authorities to ensure the provision of free meals and activities during school holidays.  This would be paid for by earmarking 10p from every pound raised from the sugar tax on soft drinks.

3.      It has been reported that the Bill has received a certain amount of cross party support with 14 Conservative MPs publicly backing the Bill, which means that more Private Members’ Bills are likely to become law if the government gives support to them.

This Council resolves:

1.      To support the Bill and asks the Chief Executive to write to our two MPs namely Cat Smith and David Morris to explain the Councils support and request that they also offer their support and actively persuade the Conservative led government to put Mr Field’s Bill into law.

2.      The Chief Executive writes to all Council Leaders across Lancashire asking them to support the Bill and requesting them to write to their own Members of Parliament to offer support for the Bill.

Last updated: 21 November 2017