17 July 2015
A third of parents on lower incomes have skipped meals during school holidays
Isolation and Hunger: the impact of the school holidays on struggling families, issued by Kellogg’s and delivered to MPs today, revealed that more than six out of ten parents (62%) with household incomes of less than £25,000 aren’t always able to afford to buy food outside of term time.
For parents with incomes of less than £15,000, that figure rose to a remarkable 73%, while 41% of parents in those low-income families had skipped meals during the holidays.
School holidays are especially difficult for low-income families whose children usually receive free school meals or support from breakfast clubs.
The Kellogg’s study of 580 low and middle income parents* showed that holidays aren’t necessarily all fun and games for hard-up families.
More than four out of ten (41%) said they sometimes felt isolated during the holidays due to being unable to afford to go out and entertain their children, and 46% said they stayed in the house more often than in term-time.
Some 14% said they’d served slightly smaller meals to their family to keep costs down, and 3% said the entire family had to skip a meal on at least one occasion. Almost four in ten (38%) said they’d bought cheaper – and perhaps less healthy – food, and nearly a quarter (24%) prioritised food over paying a household bill.
An alarming 22% said they had avoided having their children’s friends over, and 17 per cent said they had even avoided inviting family to their house during the holidays due to a lack of money for food.
One in twenty even said affording food in the holidays was a constant struggle.
Kellogg’s director Paul Wheeler said: “This summer there’ll be tens of thousands of parents sacrificing their own meals and going hungry so they can feed their kids.
“We are trying to help these hero parents by funding free holiday breakfast clubs across the UK. Those already open have proven to be a great success. That’s why we’ve invited politicians from all political parties to visit the clubs this summer to draw attention to this issue and demonstrate that there is help available.”
Almost half of parents (48%) said they’d be likely to take their children to a free holiday breakfast club, while 78% agreed that such clubs could ease parent stress.
Lindsay Graham, Chair of the Holiday Hunger Task Group said: “There are too many children in the UK that don’t have enough support in the school holidays because their families are on low incomes. Holiday programmes that provide food and activities need to be recognised and supported by government so we give these children the care they deserve out of term time.”
To help families in need, Kellogg’s is partnering with FareShare, which currently provides food to over 2,000 charities and community projects including holiday breakfast clubs.
FareShare CEO Lindsay Boswell said: “This report highlights the extent of child hunger in the UK. We are definitely seeing more and more charities that support children turning to us for food.
“During the school holidays we are experiencing growing demand, which is reflected in the findings of the Kellogg’s survey. For many low-income families it’s hard enough to stretch the budget during term time, let alone when there are kids to entertain and extra meals to provide.
“We are delighted to be working with Kellogg’s to address this issue of increasing child hunger in the UK. With the support and food we receive from them, we will be able to provide even more good food to some of the most vulnerable children and families in society.”
Around half of those surveyed said if they were in a dire situation, they’d borrow money from family. One in twenty said they’d take out a payday loan, but a third said they’d suffer in silence and seek no help at all.
Kellogg’s, which has supported school breakfast clubs for 17 years, launched its Holiday Breakfast Club programme last summer, helping existing clubs feed families during the school holidays. The clubs are held in a variety of venues, including schools and community centres, and provide the vital food and social activities that children need in the holidays.
*YouGov survey with 580 parents on a household income of £24,999 or less, with children aged 5-16. Fieldwork was undertaken between 2nd and 10th March 2015. Interviews were carried out with parents in England, Scotland and Wales.
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 580 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 2-10 March 2015. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of GB adults (aged 18+).