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Norfolk foodbanks and charities step in to fill families’ holiday hunger gap

PUBLISHED: 08:00 01 March 2018 | UPDATED: 08:15 01 March 2018

Norwich Foodbank. Pictured, left to right, Pam Broughton and Barbara Moore, Foodbank volunteers. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Norwich Foodbank. Pictured, left to right, Pam Broughton and Barbara Moore, Foodbank volunteers. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

Food banks and charities in Norfolk are stepping in to help struggling families facing holiday hunger.

The Norwich Foodbank Fish Club, which provides meals and activities for children in the school holidays, pictured in 2015. Calleigh Vincent, then three. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Norwich Foodbank Fish Club, which provides meals and activities for children in the school holidays, pictured in 2015. Calleigh Vincent, then three. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

While low-income families are often entitled to free school meals in term time, in many parts of the country, including Norfolk, there is no formal provision at weekends or during holidays.

Research has previously said that demand and for food banks doubles during holidays, with children returning to school in a worse educational and health state than when they left.

Earlier this month, North Lanarkshire, in Scotland, became the latest local authority to launch a weekend and holiday free school meals scheme, so children have a hot meal every day of the year.

In Norfolk, though, the burden falls to charities and foodbanks, including the Norwich Foodbank, part of the Trussell Trust.

In 2014, they launched the Food in School Holidays (FISH) scheme, where community centres in and around Norwich provide a hot meal and activities as often as they can during holidays.

Hannah Worsley, project manager, said: “There had been a rise in the number of families coming to us in holidays, particularly in the summer break.

“The FISH sessions have been really busy - on average there’s about 30 children at each one.”

The team works with schools in disadvantaged areas and asks them to suggest families who might benefit from the help.

Mrs Worsley said it was often the consistency that really helped.

“There’s plenty of pop-up groups, but they know this is coming back and will be there, and I think that really helps.”

A similar initiative, run by Make Lunch, a national charity trying to fill the holiday hunger gap, is held in Aylsham.

A spokesperson for Norfolk County Council said: “We work closely with local food bank providers and other community services to ensure support is available to those in greatest need, this includes providing food bank vouchers to families.

“Some schools do offer provision during the holidays for their pupils, providing food when free school meals are not available. We are always committed to work with our partners to ensure that suitable provision is made for those who are having difficulty.”

• How does holiday hunger affect you? Email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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