As many as three million children across the UK are at risk of hunger during the school holidays, it has been reported.
According to a report by the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) - a cross-party group of MPs and peers - during the holidays, children in the UK are existing on poor diets that are leaving them vulnerable to malnutrition and undermining their education and life choices.
The report revealed that children at risk of hunger over the summer holidays include over one million children who receive free school meals during term time, and an additional two million children with working parents who are in poverty despite their employment.
Ministers should utilise the £41.5 million raised as part of the planned tax on sugary drinks, claim the group, to help each UK council set up support schemes with local churches and charities that help feed hungry children when schools are closed.
Over this period, the report found there was a “deeply troubling” impact on children who had gone hungry, returning to school “malnourished, sluggish and dreary”.
Because of this, children returning to school hungry are starting the new term weeks and months intellectually behind their more fortunate peers who have experienced a more wholesome diet with lots of activity.
According to the group’s chair, Frank Field MP: “The evidence presented in this report is staggering. It shows us that there are not only children in this country who are exposed to hunger when they are not at school, but also that this exposure risks damaging their prospects of gaining a good education and living a healthy life.”
The report mentioned one young person who vomited during their break because their diet consisted only of crisps. In another instance, a group of children participating in a holiday football tournament had to drop out because they had not eaten a meal in the days leading up to the event.