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Hull North MP backs bid to end Holiday Hunger in Hull

Hull North MP Diana Johnson has pledged to back a move to help tackle ‘holiday hunger’ - the shocking issue of children going hungry during the school holidays.
 
The School Holidays (Meals and Activities) Bill, which will be debated in the House of Commons on Friday 19 January, has been put forward by senior backbench Birkenhead MP Frank Field with cross party support. It would give local authorities the legal duty to ensure that children can have free food and fun activities in the school holidays. It also would bring extra resources for holiday clubs, funded from the Sugary Drinks Levy.
 
Diana Johnson MP said: “A lot of pioneering work has been done in Hull over the past decade on getting greater take-up of healthy school food and it paid dividends locally in the fight against child obesity and improving results in the classroom.
 
“However, in the most deprived areas we have seen that the effect of austerity and squeezed incomes in recent years has meant an increase in food poverty among families. As a result we have seen greater reliance on food banks, including families with wage earners, and children going hungry in school holidays.
 
“I’m backing Frank Field’s Bill to put Sugar Levy money into providing healthy food and activity for youngsters in the school holidays. It’s a much-needed measure in Hull.”
 
Feeding Britain’s recently published report Ending Hunger in the Holidays, revealed that in excess of 187,000 meals were provided to children in the summer and October half term holidays last year, but stresses that this is only a drop in the ocean compared to the level of need. The report concluded: “Holiday clubs provide an urgently needed safety net to protect children from hunger and social isolation, but an incomplete one, and one that is increasingly strained”.
 
The report highlighted the importance of holiday clubs, which protect children and their families from hunger and social isolation in the holidays, boosting children’s health and learning, and helping to prevent poorer children falling behind their more fortunate peers during the holidays.  Recent research from Northumbria University showed that children from poorer backgrounds see a stagnation or reduction in spelling skills over the summer holidays, and take several weeks to recover lost learning. 
 
Diana Johnson is one of 130 cross party MPs who are supporting the Bill and the Hull North MP is already working with a local business woman to establish a scheme in Hull North. Discussions will be taking place shortly with local charities and Hull City Council about how it will be delivered. 
 
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has also expressed his support for the Bill, saying: “It is shocking to consider the possibility that children in this country are going hungry during the school holidays. I applaud the work being done by many local groups, not least the food banks who offer practical help needed, but the Bill will ensure local authorities have to take their responsibility seriously, and ensure good local partnership working to aim to prevent any holiday hunger”.
 
Feeding Britain’s National Director, Rosie Oglesby, says: “Charities and other groups around the country are doing an amazing job running holiday clubs with limited budgets and resources, but there are huge gaps. Holiday hunger has no place in a modern society, but we really need proper national support and funding if we are to stand a chance of ending it for good.”
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