Devon Foodbanks bracing for school holidays

Ross Bryant
Ross Bryant

Foodbanks across Devon are expecting a surge in food bank use during the summer holidays.

Last year The Trussell Trust’s Exeter Foodbank saw the number of people needing food aid increase by around fifty percent during the holidays, with a “noticeable increase” in families with children using the service.

Expensive childcare is thought to be a major factor in squeezing the budgets of low income families. In addition to added financial pressure the lack of free school meals normally provided during term time is also thought to be putting pressure on demand. Last year, Exeter Foodbank saw the distribution of their emergency food parcels increase substantially during the summer holidays.

Last year, three weeks before the school holidays began, an average of 95 people per week received food packages from The Trussell Trust in Exeter. During the holidays that figure increased to 148. One week during the holidays even saw a record-breaking week with 187 people being served, almost double the average.

Nationally, during July and August 2017, The Trussell Trust foodbanks provided over 204,525 three day emergency parcels, 74,011 of which went to children. In comparison, during May and June 2017 70,510 supplies went to children.

In a statement The Trussell Trust said: “One of the main reasons is that children who normally have free school meals don’t get them during the holidays.

‘Factor in additional child care costs if parents are working and it’s easy to imagine how families might struggle.

‘To complicate matters, recent research by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) suggests that low-earning parents working full-time are still unable to earn enough to provide their family with a basic, no- frills lifestyle. A couple with two children would be £49 a week short of the income needed,” the charity said.

Whilst increased costs for childcare and a lack of free school meals are a major factor, the controversial rollout of the Universal Credit scheme is still thought to be contributing to the increase.

The news comes as it was recently revealed that Devon’s Citizens Advice Bureau has seen a sharp increase in demand in West, Central and North Devon.

The Citizens Advice catchment areas of Torridge, Mid and West Devon saw a 47% increase in demand. In the year ending March 2019, advisors dealt with just under 10,000 new cases, almost a third of which came from the Okehampton area.

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