The scandalous phenomena of holiday hunger drives increasing foodbank use as families struggle to feed kids
Foodbank operators fear they may have to give out a record number of emergency food parcels this summer.
The Trussell Trust has revealed that it distributed 6,551 parcels during last year’s summer holidays – a 21% increase over the previous year.
And the charity – which operates 135 foodbanks across Scotland – fears demand may rise again this summer, as overall foodbank use in Scotland rose by 23% in 2018-19.
A major driver over the summer period is the phenomena of ‘holiday hunger’, when families who qualify for free school meals struggle to feed their children over the holidays.
Ahead of schools breaking up this week, the Trussell Trust is urging people check what items their local foodbank is most in need of.
While these donations are vital for helping families during the next six weeks, the charity has stressed foodbanks are not a long-term solution, and more must be done to ensure people have enough money for essentials like food.
It believes tackling delays and gaps in benefits, which affect families’ ability to afford essentials, should be treated as a priority by the Scottish and UK governments. The most immediate relief for thousands of people would be to end the five week wait for a first Universal Credit payment, a key driver of increased need at foodbanks in the charity’s network.
Laura Ferguson, Operations Manager for Scotland at the Trussell Trust, said: “No charity can replace the dignity of having enough money for the basics. But more and more families across Scotland are struggling to make ends meet, unable to afford food and facing hunger as a result. This isn’t right.
“Foodbanks do all they can to help families over the summer, with many running holiday clubs to support parents who find that their income simply won’t stretch to meet the extra pressure of missing free school meals or paying for extra childcare during the holidays.
“But ultimately, we should all be protected from needing a food bank’s help, no matter the time of the year. If we are to end hunger in Scotland, we need to make sure everyone is anchored from being swept into poverty. Governments need to ensure benefit payments reflect the true cost of living and work is secure, paying the real living wage, which would help eliminate the need for a food bank parcel altogether.
“While it’s great to see the Scottish Government pledging to tackle holiday hunger, food banks and other emergency food provision cannot, and must not, be a long term to solution to poverty.”