A Derry campaign group has called for the reinstatement of the ‘holiday hunger’ payment so children doing go without food this summer.
Cost of Living crisis campaign spokesperson Goretti Horgan said “In 2020, the Executive announced that it would follow England in giving families whose children receive Free School Meals (FSMs) a School Holiday Food Grant. At the time, Minister for Education Peter Weir said:
“The issue of ‘holiday hunger’ has become an increasing concern this year and I have worked, with my Executive colleagues, to address this by providing food payments to families during the summer and Halloween holidays and indeed when schools were forced to close.
“I realise the vital importance for children who normally receive a free school meal to have access to a nutritious meal without placing their family under further hardship in these difficult times.
“This is a very worrying time for families particularly those with school age children and these payments will help to support them during school holiday periods.
“Access to a healthy nutritious meal should be a basic right for all children and it is vital that we continue this support to ensure children and young people come back to school after holiday periods, healthy and ready to learn. Their future depends on it.
“Since 2020, we have seen the price of food and energy rocket and a Cost of Living Crisis which has placed families that had previously been managing ok in a situation they’ve never been before – struggling to put food on the table.
“Yet, this is the time the Department chooses to cut the School Holiday Food Grant.
“£27 a fortnight might not be a lot to people on decent wages but, for those struggling on low wages or on benefits, that £54 a month can be the difference between being able to give their children three meals a day.
“We all know that children eat their way through the summer holidays – meaning that there is no holiday for their parents who are constantly worried whether what they’ve got in will last as long as it needs to.
“This cut could not have come at a more cruel time for families. It needs to be restored immediately.
“As the then Minister said we need “to ensure children and young people come back to school after holiday periods, healthy and ready to learn.
“Their future depends on it.”Tags: