SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan said the decision to end holiday hunger payments will see vulnerable families at risk of food insecurity during the summer months.
Since July 2020, around 96,000 children received fortnightly payments of £27 during the school holidays to cover food costs.
The provision was axed in March 2023 in a bid to save costs within the Department of Education.
Said the Foyle MLA: “It was a senseless decision to cut access to holiday hunger payments at a time when there is such profound need within our communities.
“Ideally, the department should’ve been looking at expanding this provision for all families with school age children including households not in receipt of benefits and therefore locked out of this support.
“Struggling families will be facing the summer months with dread, laden with the worry of how they’ll manage to feed their children throughout the day.
“At least during the academic year, they were guaranteed a substantial meal at school. Food prices are ever increasing.
“Healthy foods like fruit and vegetables are not within the price budget of some households with parents forced to opt for cheaper often unhealthier food items in a bid to feed their family.
“Recent findings from the Trussell Trust have revealed that food poverty is a sad and acute reality in the North. Foodbanks here have witnessed a 194% increase in usage since 2018.
“Quite frankly, the situation is Dickensian.
“The initiative to fight holiday hunger was instigated in response to the pandemic however given the arguably worse off financial position so many households now find themselves, these payments are needed more than ever.
“How many more casualties must it take for DUP to go back into government?
“These are the real life consequences of political failure impacting the most vulnerable individuals in society, our children.”Tags: