Holiday Hunger Schemes

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:32 pm on 6th November 2018.

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Photo of Carolyn Harris Carolyn Harris Shadow Minister (Equalities Office) (Women and Equalities) 3:32 pm, 6th November 2018

I apologise, Mr Stringer.

We have had help from organisations such as Bidfood, which is a huge wholesaler; Boss Brewing, which provided us with a kitchen; the Coastal Housing Group, which provided resources and the delivery service; Dignity Funerals, which is connected to my children’s funeral fund campaign and has donated a huge amount of money; and Morrisons and Warburtons.

I recently met the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, which represents wholesalers up and down the country. It explained the good work that its members do to help to prevent holiday hunger and to provide children with the food they need during the school holidays. One of its members, Brakes, has been part of the “Meals & More” holiday hunger scheme for many years, and recently pledged £100,000 a year for the next five years to aid the initiative. That is a wonderful example of how businesses in communities are helping those communities. When you see a child grabbing a bag containing a cheese sandwich, a yoghurt, a packet of crisps and a bottle of water with enthusiasm and excitement because they are hungry, you cannot fail to be moved. It does not just pull at your heartstrings, but makes you think about how we take things for granted. Many kids do not get sufficient nutrition during the summer holiday. Even more importantly, many do not get basic food to fill their stomachs.

Now to the political bit. I was going to talk about the fact that, this Christmas, I am providing more than 100 food hampers to be delivered to those in need in Swansea. That will be done with the help of many people in my constituency who are giving me the money to work with Morrisons to provide a full Christmas dinner, including a joint and everything else that we take for granted, such as chocolate biscuits and mince pies. For people on low incomes, those things are luxuries to which they can only ever aspire.

Last year, the South Wales Evening Post launched a scheme called “Everyone Deserves a Christmas”, and collected clothing, food donations and everything else we take for granted. That tells us that there is a community spirit. Day in, day out, in times of austerity, people work hard to ensure that people in our communities, and especially children, are looked after. Surely there is more the Government can do to help them. Surely we can find ways to support people. It should not be done on a charitable basis, although nobody who gives to the work we do, and nobody who receives it, considers it to be charity, because it has become a necessity. I urge the Government to do everything they can to ensure children do not go hungry at any time of the year, and especially not when they do not have access to free school meals.