North Yorkshire children are going hungry this summer, the next Prime Minister must do something - Yorkshire Post Letters

From: Helen Tomlinson, Kings Meadows, Sowerby, Thirsk.

Two years ago, public response to Marcus Rashford’s campaign forced the Government to provide food vouchers worth £15 per week per child to help families with children entitled to free school meals during the school summer holidays.

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What is 'holiday hunger?'

Those families also had the £20 per week temporary uplift in Universal Credit. This meant that a family with two children faced the summer holidays with support of £50 per week.

Picture: AdobeStock.

The Government scrapped the uplift in Universal Credit and replaced the holiday food voucher scheme with grants to councils to provide free places on holiday activities and food programmes. With rocketing food prices, the poorest families with children need help during these summer holidays as never before.

Without their free school meal, many of these children will be malnourished. The Holiday Activities and Food Scheme doesn’t reach anywhere near enough of the children in need and a child can only have a free place for 16 days.

Just 22 per cent of the North Yorkshire children who get free school meals took up places on the programme last year.

That means that across the county some 8,700 children missed out, over 1,000 children in Thirsk and Malton.

The three community organisations – North Yorkshire Together – have arranged the Holiday Activities and Food Scheme for North Yorkshire, working with many local groups to provide a varied and exciting offer this summer. However, such a programme is no substitute for ensuring that all school-age children are properly fed throughout the year.

Local Conservative party members electing their new leader and our Prime Minister should be asking the candidates why, in a civilised, advanced western economy, the Government is failing so many children.

For the rest of us, who have no say in who the next Prime Minister will be, we should be asking our MP Kevin Hollinrake what he is going to do to ensure that his constituents’ children do not go hungry this summer.