The number of households with children going hungry has doubled since lockdown began, as millions of people struggle to afford food.
New data from the Food Foundation has revealed that almost a fifth of households with children have been unable to access enough food in the past five weeks, with meals being skipped and children not getting enough to eat as already vulnerable families battle isolation and a loss of income.The strain on larger families, single parent homes and those with disabled children has been immense.
A reported 30% of lone parents and 46% of parents with a disabled child are facing food insecurity and finding it difficult to manage basic nutritional needs at home.
With schools no longer providing a reprieve for children reliant on free breakfast clubs and school lunches, poorer families are at crisis point.
According to the Food Foundation, of the 621,000 children who were accessing free breakfast clubs before the pandemic, only 136,000 are being provided with an alternative. However, 31% of children entitled to free school meals are still not getting any substitute, leaving more than 500,000 children going without.
The Trussell Trust reported an 81% increase in people needing support from its food banks at the end of March compared with the same period last year. Demand from children for food-bank services had also increased by 121%. The Independent Food Network reported a similar surge, with a 59% increase in demand for emergency food support between February and March.
“It is difficult to accept, and for some even difficult to believe that there are still children going hungry in this rich and largely competent nation. But there are millions,” writes Emma Thompson. “What is undeniable is that our government has yet to extend real lifelines to those who cannot afford food. We need emergency income support to put money in the pockets of families who are suffering.”