We asked FoodCycle’s Camilla James to tell us about the charity’s campaign to fight back against holiday hunger here in the UK.
What is the Holiday Hunger Challenge?
The Holiday Hunger Challenge is a campaign to raise awareness of what it’s like to be hungry in Britain today.
An estimated three million children risk being hungry during the school holidays in the UK. The daily struggle with hunger, for some families, rules out any chance they might otherwise have of going out and enjoying themselves, leading to inactivity, isolation and loneliness.
Why have you launched it now?
When you think of the school holidays, you may think of fun activities, holidays and a chance to recharge before the busy school year kicks off. But for many families on a low income, this is not the reality.
Holiday hunger pushes many families into food poverty and insecurity. Although some children from low-income families can access free school meals during term time, there is currently nothing available during holidays.
Holiday hunger also means families can suffer from social isolation during the holidays, as they cannot afford to have family days out or do activities.
Evidence on the impact of hunger on children during school holidays reveals they return to school malnourished, sluggish, and dreary – some even lose ‘significant’ amounts of weight, while others gain a lot of weight.
This also sadly means that children start the new term several weeks, if not months, intellectually behind peers who have enjoyed a more wholesome diet and activity during the school holidays.
How can people get involved?
We are asking volunteers to live on a food and drink budget of £2.50 a day, for one week this July to raise vital funds for our work across the country.
We know that we will only be doing this for a week, and millions of people in the UK, including many of those we work with at FoodCycle, don’t have this choice. For them, it isn’t a ‘challenge’, it’s their life, and it’s an ongoing struggle for them to use that budget to feed themselves and their families with nutritious food.
However, living on a low food and drink budget can be an eye-opening experience. We think that, in a small way, taking part in this challenge will help people to understand what it’s like to not have enough.
Why is FoodCycle running this campaign?
In our projects up and down the country, families and individuals are struggling to make ends meet. 61% worry where their next meal will come from and 66% often skip meals.
We want to raise awareness and vital funds for our work, so we can serve more nutritious, free meals across the country and relieve some of the pressures on families.
Bringing people together through tasty, community meals is our bread and butter.
With your help, we can make sure more children return to school happy and healthy – and give parents a welcome break too.