An urgent response is needed to save thousands of Bristol’s children from poor physical and mental health caused by ‘holiday hunger’ this summer.
The charity Feeding Bristol, which provides outreach and support across the city through a network of community groups and organisations including Young Bristol, believes at least 11,000 children face regularly going without a decent meal during this year’s summer school holidays.
Today they launch a city-wide campaign to encourage businesses and other organisations to provide funding to reduce the harm caused by holiday hunger this year. The campaign aims to raise at least £100,000 to provide food for thousands of children who are at risk of going without food during the summer holiday period.
Business leaders will meeting to discuss the extent of the crisis in Bristol and how they can help. This forms part of a plan through which Feeding Bristol is asking business leaders to help reach its target of £100,000 over the coming weeks to help address the crisis.
Feeding Bristol chairman Andy Street said:
“Bristol has the highest number of children claiming free school meals in the South West and amongst the highest proportion in the country at nearly 20 per cent, with around 26,000 living in poverty. We are acutely aware of the devastating effects of holiday hunger on children’s mental and physical wellbeing and had put forward ambitious plans to government to continue the good work we had been doing in the city last year. These plans have not been supported, so we have a funding gap which could mean that thousands of children will go hungry in July and August. This should not be accepted in one of the country’s most successful, thriving cities. We are working with city and business leaders to urgently address this crisis. There is a lot to do, quickly, but we have been encouraged by the level of support we have had so far.”
Working in partnership with FareShare SW and other local bodies, the funding would enable Feeding Bristol to prepare and deliver food to a network of activity providers, youth and community groups across the city. It will support the delivery of more than 34,000 meals to children and their families during the summer holidays.
Young Bristol was a key partner in a pilot project run by Feeding Bristol last year, which helped provide food for more than 2,000 children during the holidays. Young Bristol’s Programme Manager, Matt Donnelly said:
“Our youth workers have been aware of the issues surrounding holiday hunger for a long time, but we have noticed that the problem has worsened in recent years. When many of our children struggle to get enough food during term, it’s clear to us that the problem will be worse during the holidays. That is why this campaign is so important to us, and the city of Bristol. We hope as many businesses as possible help us to tackle this crisis and stop thousands of children and young people going without meals this summer. Our projects aim to ensure that young people benefit from taking part in activities as well as being fed. Working in this way helps to avoid stigma, which is an important area to address through this work.”
Building on the success of last year’s pilot programme, raising at least £100,000 will help Feeding Bristol to:
• Provide more than 34,000 meals to children during the holiday period.
• Feed around 5,600 Bristol children over the summer school holiday period.
• Ensure the meals are provided through a network of activities and holiday clubs on all 30 weekdays of the summer holidays.
Anyone who is interested in helping can make a donation directly HERE!