Holiday Hunger

Make Lunch image

Holiday Hunger

Holiday hunger is a real problem for families who normally receive free school meals.  Providing those extra meals during school holidays can be a real struggle for many families.  At this time, social security changes are reducing income, unemployment remains high and there are major cuts to youth work and holiday provision.  So there is real concern that some families will struggle to meet the costs of feeding their children during the holidays.  There is evidence that food banks experience a peak in demand during school holidays.

So, what can be done?  There are three main approaches:

  • provide free activities for children that include a basic lunch
  • run 'lunch clubs' targeted at children who receive free school meals (for example, Make Lunch)
  • provide supermarket vouchers for eligible families

All three have their merits, and we encourage all Local Authorities to consider these and other approaches.  Our preferred model is the first one, as it offers the widest benefits.  So, we encourage all providers of holiday activities to include lunch wherever possible, especially in areas with high levels of children receiving free school meals.  We've provided some information below to help organisations do this:

We are also showcasing the activities of individual organisations:

North Star Housing Group Food Projects

Hope 4 Summer, Middlesbrough

Coast & Country Family Learning Day


There are a number of ways to source food.  FareShare is one of the best ways to get access to spare food from retailers. Churches, mosques, temples and other places of worship often have kitchens and volunteers available to help prepare food. Many community centres do too.  Local food banks may also be able to provide food where they have enough stock - a list of local food banks, or links to lists where there are several in a locality, is below.  A searchable map is also available here: Trussell Trust Map. If you know of other sources of food, please let us know.

The following foodbanks have no listed website, but can be contacted via phone or e-mail.


Volunteers can provide an invaluable resource.  Finding the right volunteers is best done at a very local level.  Each local area has a volunteer service that can match organisations to volunteers.  These are listed below:

 Each of the Universities or their Student Unions also run student volunteering projects.  Links to these are listed below:


We would hope that most activities could provide lunches without needing additional funding.  However, we realise that this may not always be the case.  If additional costs are incurred that need extra funding, our view is that most funders should be willing to consider a small top-up to their funding to provide lunches.  Local Authority Ward Committees often have small budgets, which could be used to provide additional small amounts.  The Community Foundations can be a good source of small amounts of funding - links to the three Foundations in the North East are below.

If you know of other sources of funding that might be willing and able to help address holiday hunger, please let us know.

Related Blogs

Here is a rough transcript of a conversation with Sara Bryson of Children North East, who leads on Poverty Proofing the School Day:

In most schools, catering contractors are paid £1.90 per day to provide free school meals for qualifying children. If a child on free...

More and more young people at West End Youth Enquiry Service (WEYES) are accessing the local food bank.  Project workers are handing out more vouchers than ever before. We've been providing cooking advice, training and practical help on a regular basis, and workers have found that young people...

On 12 June, people met in Gateshead to discuss ways to reduce 'holiday hunger' in the North East.  With unemployment still high, wages still low and welfare changes biting, there is real concern about the impact of the lack of free school meals during the school holidays.

Here are the...


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