Summer break sees Sunderland children going hungry without free school meals

Sharon Hodgson MP
Sharon Hodgson MP
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CHILDREN across Sunderland are going without food during the holidays, claims a new report.

Figures revealed that almost one fifth of youngsters in the North East will not get enough to eat during the long break and return to school noticeably thinner.

A study, published this week, said that far from being fun, family time, breaks out of school put an extra financial burden on more than a quarter of families in the region.

The survey, by breakfast company, Kellogg’s, revealed that 17 per cent of children will go hungry and that teachers are increasingly worried about the changes in some pupils, including weight loss, when they return to school.

These are sad statistics when children spend 170 days out of school compared to 190 days in the classroom.

Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, said: “We’ve been aware for a long time that, for many children, the free school meals they get during term time are likely to be the only decent meals they’ll get, so the health of those children during the holidays is a big concern.

“There are obviously many different factors behind this problem, including some families not having the facilities or capabilities. But, as the rising numbers of families turning to food banks shows, the cost of living crisis is seeing more and more families struggle to make ends meet, and particularly over the summer.”

Mrs Hodgson, who is chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on School Food in Westminster,said: “It’s great that Kellogg’s and others are seeking to address this shortfall, but their generosity shouldn’t be an excuse for the Government to sit back and refuse to address the issues which are leading to this problem in the first place.”

Kellogg’s launched a pilot Holiday Breakfast Club programme to help families in need this summer, with clubs held in a variety of venues including schools, community centres and foodbanks.

It was part of the company’s Help Give a Child a Breakfast initiative which aims to feed 80,000 families in need every day.

The research by Kellogg’s revealed 39 per cent of teachers have pupils in their school that do not get enough to eat for a healthy lifestyle over the school holidays.