Summer holidays set to be busy for food banks across London

Almost half of food banks and food support services say they are expecting the upcoming summer holiday to be incredibly busy. In a survey1 of community organisations receiving food from The Felix Project – 48%2 of respondents said the summer holidays are their busiest time of the year.

35% of respondents said they are expecting to see around one quarter more families during the summer break than they usually would – concerningly around 5% said they could see 100% more families during this time.

The Felix Project redistributes surplus food to around 1,000 community organisations and schools across London. During the holidays many parents struggle with the additional costs associated with having their children at home. Not being able to access free school meals and school food banks means they are forced to turn elsewhere for help.

Worryingly 29% of respondents said they did not feel confident they could meet the additional demand and 21% felt they would really struggle. Burnt Oak Community Food Bank is one of those organisations, Founder, Deepa Chauhan is expecting to see double the number of families during the holidays, she said: “I am really worried about the next few weeks, while we will not turn people away and will do all we can to help parents we know this increased demand means we will have to give people less at a time when they really need more. Our food bank prioritises giving out fresh fruit and vegetables as I think no one should miss out on healthy food because they have a limited budget, but they are expensive and we support up to 900 people every fortnight – ensuring they have enough will be very stressful.”

The Felix Project is doing all it can to fight against children going hungry during the holiday. Food that would usually be given to schools will be given to organisations running holiday programmes across the capital. The charity has also been given a grant by the Mayor of London and is working with Mayor’s Fund for London to provide more meals and meal kits for families experiencing food insecurity. However the charity is currently at capacity and cannot give out more food until it gets more financial support and more food, Charlotte Hill OBE is the CEO and said: “These are difficult times – the cost of living crisis is leaving so many people unable to afford to feed themselves and their children – we know the need is greater than ever and too many parents are facing unimaginable levels of stress and anxiety over how to stretch already overextended budgets to cover the extra holiday costs. We know every single organisation we support wants more food and we have more than 600 more charities on our waiting lists, but we cannot do more until we get more support.”

One of the parents who accesses Burnt Oak Community Food bank is Margaret Inglis, she has 5 children =, three of which are in school. Her husband is on a zero hours contract, so their income fluctuates and the family often rely the foodbank for help, she said: The summer holiday’s are a huge concern, I don’t know how I’m going to cover the extra food we will need, especially as food prices have gone through the roof, a monthly shop used to be £150 now I can spend that in a week, but we just don’t have it. My children notice, they ask for snacks or fruit or even a takeaway, but my oldest has started saying to her younger siblings that mum can’t afford it, it’s heart-breaking. I honestly don’t know what we would do without the foodbanks support.”