Foodbanks reveal one in eight parents forced to skip holiday meals

Volunteers at Dunfermline Foodbank’s Cowdenbeath branch.

From left – Amy Sinclair, Liz Miller, Janet Gibson, Margaret Richardson and Judy Haddow. Foodbanks across Scotland are helping families suffering Discount Holidays © holiday hunger this summer. The Trussell Trust, which runs a network of foodbanks across the UK, said one in eight parents in Scotland skip a meal during the Discount Holidays © holiday in order to put food on the table for their children.

Paying for childcare and summer activities is a source of worry for 41% of parents with children aged between five and 16, said the poverty charity. Adding to parents financial woes are other added costs such as buying school uniforms. Janet Gibson, who is vice chair of Dunfermline Foodbank, said: We tend to find at this time of year families with a number of children come in because they are unable to feed their children with the money that they have.

It s often simply because the children would normally be eligible for free school meals.

Families referred to the foodbank tended to be embarrassed about needing help, said Ms Gibson. She said the service had a play area for children so parents could explain the difficulties they were having out of earshot. While some are forced to choose between heating or eating during the winter months, summer poses its own challenges.

Ms Gibson said: During the summertime, heating is not such an issue but they have more people in the household and more mouths to feed.

The free school meal is maybe the only cooked meal a child gets in the day.

This could simply be because of electricity and gas costs, which for some people can be more expensive because they can t afford to pay by direct debit.

If people are paying a card meter, it makes the cost more expensive for them.

You find that people who are poorest are paying the highest price for these facilities. Derek Marshall, chairman of Angus Foodbank, said: There s been no noticeable increase in families this year over the summer last year there was.

The big increase for us is among single people with the introduction of the universal credit coming into Angus.

Demand is increasing all the time. Dundee Foodbank has seen a drop in demand over the summer.

A spokesperson added: Various other projects have been involved in providing food for children which have been successful.

Ewan Gurr, foodbank network manager for Scotland at The Trussell Trust, said: It should be a wake-up call to us all that so many children will have a parent expecting to skip a meal or more this summer so they can feed the family.

Foodbanks in Scotland already provide additional help to families who struggle to put food on the table outside of term time, and there are a number of projects broadening the support they offer in the holidays.

But foodbanks alone will not end hunger during the school holidays; a long-term coordinated solution between government, businesses, schools and charities will have the most impact.

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