Holiday Hunger – No child in our town should be hungry
I am rising to propose this motion one that I am sure all of us would rather not have to stand behind, however 10yrs of austerity means that we are unfortunately in this position. We must address the route cause of childhood hunger through political reform and action on that is critical but holiday clubs can be a brilliant way to tackle the problem and there is evidence that they also promote social inclusion.
Proven advantages show socialising and provision of activities increases wellbeing. They provide financial relief for parents on very low incomes. Parents can build skills and often find pathways for future work and a good meal provides for improved physical and mental health, helping children do better and in some cases excel at school after the holidays.
We must tackle holiday hunger with properly funded and resourced programs. On the 170 days a year that children are not at school we need to take responsibility for ensuring that children have access to nutritious food. Glasgow City Council, in the summer of 2018 funded local groups to feed 15,000 youngsters through its Children’s Holiday Food Program.
We must work with organisations across Northampton for eg the Northamptonshire Food Poverty Network and FISH (Food in School Holidays) run by the Emmanuelle Church, who have huge ambition to move their success schemes run in Blackthorn to other areas. We must work with youth groups, activity clubs, parents and schools, all partners who will put an end to this very real crisis. According to Sustain (the alliance for better food and farming) in 2016 the Trussell Trust, the UK’s largest foodbank network delivered 1.2 million packages, compared to 41,000 in 2009. . For those who think the word crisis is too strong of a choice of phrasing I would ask you to reconsider.
All of this is a symptom of inadequate and/or insecure incomes, holes in the welfare safety net, benefits sanctions, rising debts and financial implications for those living disability and mental health issues.
I sincerely hope we can unanimously pass this motion and develop a food poverty action plan here in Northampton.
Data published by the end Child Poverty Coalition highlights the worrying truths. In Northampton there are over 15,000 children living in poverty and in my ward Delapre & Briar Hill, the percentage of children is 28.6%, after housing costs are considered. Semilong is 40.8%, Billing 33.2% and Rectory Farm 36.6%. For 10% of children school lunch can be the biggest meal of the day. Nationally almost ¾ of teachers reported seeing children arrive at school hungry. I know teachers who have foodbanks in their classrooms and provide breakfast out of their own pockets. This is fundamentally wrong, what is even worse is that when school is closed the extra support is lost. This is another opportunity for Northampton Borough Council to lead the way in the prevention of social isolation and ensure that no child in our town goes hungry. I hope we grab it with both hands