Sharon Hodgson MP: The campaign to extend holiday activity funding
Following her question during last week's PMQs, we spoke to Sharon Hodgson MP about her campaign to extend holiday activity funding to ensure that all children on free school meals are fed over the school holidays. Hodgson is the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on School Food.
Thousands of children up and down the country currently receive free school meals. This is a lifeline for parents and guardians on low incomes and is estimated to be worth around £400 a year per child.
But those families and children do not receive any support on the 170 days that schools shut their gates for holidays.
This means that, in many cases, families will struggle to find the money to buy food to supplement this extra meal that is usually provided by schools.
Over the years, I have heard of the desperation parents go through to feed their children during the school holidays. I've heard accounts of parents rationing their own food by skipping meals themselves or watering down milk to make it go further.
At crisis point, parents and children turn to charities who provide provision over the holidays to keep children active, and most importantly, fed. But it shouldn’t be up to charities to fill this gap.
Far from being excited for the joy to come, some families on low incomes will be feeling dread as schools wind down for the summer holidays.
That is why on Wednesday 23 July 2019, during Theresa May’s penultimate PMQs, I took the opportunity to raise holiday hunger in the chamber and urge the prime minister to extend holiday activity funding to ensure that every child who receives free school meals during term time is able to access food during the school holidays.
Instead, Theresa May leaves office with even worse levels of inequalities than when she entered.
Thousands of children will go hungry this summer, through no fault of their own. This should not be happening in the world’s fifth richest economy and I will continue to campaign on this very important issue until all children have access to food during the school day and the summer holidays.