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A Lichfield retailer is urging the Government to do more to tackle so-called holiday hunger.
The issue has been brought into focus as part of the campaign to get free school meals to continue over the summer.
But despite the Prime Minister agreeing to extending the scheme, local councillors have warned the issue of vulnerable children going hungry over the summer holidays will not be alleviated by the move.
Central England Co-op has now pledged £100,000 to FareShare Midlands to help keep youngsters fed over the summer.
The retailer’s chief executive Debbie Robinson said the company would also be campaigning for a change in Government policy.
“We have now been working with our food bank partners to try and combat holiday hunger for many years, yet we continue to see demand for food bank support spike as what they now offer has sadly become a permanent solution rather than an emergency response.
“We all want to get to a point where we do not have to rely on the generosity of our members and customers to ensure children do not go hungry every single summer and this is why today we are calling on the Government to urgently address this problem and put an end to holiday hunger.
“Free school meals and vouchers are great but not enough.
“We now need more change from the Government before it is too late to support the near 900,000 young people in our area who fall outside the current support system.”Debbie Robinson, Central England Co-op
Research by FareShare Midlands, based on local authority statistics, has revealed that only 25% of children living in poverty are accessing free school meals.
Central England Co-op has launched a Summer Support for Kids campaign, which will ask customers to donate items such as toiletries, cereals, drinks and sun cream at stores.
The drive is also asking for crayons, paints and other school supplies to be donated.
“Communities are continuing to suffer and this is why we are urgently launching our Summer Support for Kids appeal.
“We are asking people to donate food and, for the first time, items such as arts, crafts and stationery to keep kids entertained this summer and help them get ready to return to school – any donation will make an ever-lasting impact for those in need.
“I would also like to thank all of our customers and members as when you shop with us, we then generate the funds necessary to support initiatives like FareShare to operate, specifically supporting children and families who live in the community around your local co-op.”Debbie Robinson, Central England Co-op