Central England Co-op launches food bank appeal to address children’s holiday hunger

Figures show an increased demand for support over the summer when free school meals are not available

A new appeal by the Central England Co-operative aims to tackle the problem of children going hungry over the summer period.

The society’s campaign will run for three months from June to August, raising food and toiletry items for children in need. The initiative builds on the co-op’s previous Christmas and Easter appeals, which collected over 85,000 items for food banks.

Over 85% of 50 food banks working with the co-op said they experienced a rise in demand over the summer holiday, when the free school meals are not available. Furthermore, figures from End Child Poverty revealed that over 400,000 children across the retailer’s trading area are at risk of falling into holiday hunger during 2018.

The items raised by Central England in its stores will be used to create bigger food parcels for families with children and to provide packed lunches for projects working to tackle holiday hunger.

Martyn Cheatle, chief executive of the society, said: “We are proud to be able to support our food banks all year round and in the past few months have helped collect over 85,000 items to help people in need.

“We wanted to ensure that this great support continued and, after speaking to our food bank partners, knew that helping to tackle holiday hunger was the right thing to do.

“This summer we are appealing to our customers and members to support our campaign and help youngsters in need and their families so they don’t have to go without during the holidays. All we are asking is that people drop off one or more items into our food banks this summer and help make a real difference.”

The society is encouraging customers and members to donate one or more items. These can include food staples such as tea, sugar and cereals or other essentials such as toiletries and hygiene products.

Anna Feuchtwang, chair of the End Child Poverty coalition, said: “Holiday hunger, when children lose the lunch provided by school, is an urgent problem and a direct consequence of rising levels of child poverty across the UK.

“Food banks are now critical sources of support and without urgent action increasing numbers of families will be reliant on the generosity of the public to feed their children.”

The Central England Co-op has food bank collection points in hundred of its stores, which help support thousands of people in its trading area.

Paul Brookhouse, from the Hope Centre, in Derby, said the summer holiday was a time when families and individuals faced an increased challenge to ensure their children have food to eat.

He said: “The summer holiday is the biggest holiday time and so this period can be a very stressful one for many. Not only can they not afford activities, but the very basic need for food is a difficult one.

“We are delighted to be working with Central England Co-op and supporting the Summer Food Bank Appeal to combat holiday hunger.

“As many people are thinking of their holidays and enjoying the summer – We would ask people, if they can, to donate some items during the campaign. This will make a huge difference to help our food bank ensure that children and their families don’t go hungry this summer.”

Central England Co-operative has also published a list of the stores taking part in the appeal, which can be found by visiting www.centralengland.coop/summer.

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