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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.

Debbie Robinson

“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

Ross

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.

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2 Comments

  1. I wholeheartedly support this campaign. On 11 June, Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government, announced a £63m fund for those in urgent need of “food and basic essentials”. Since 13 June, I have been emailing Staffs CC about this, was directed to Lichfield DC, batted back again to Staffs CC but still haven’t located this funding pot. I would like to see it devolved to community response groups who have risen to the challenge of supporting those in need during lockdown and have been acknowledged as doing so efficiently and effectively. I’ll keep on trying to find it too.

    To put this into some sort of context, the Secretary of State’s decision to approve Richard Desmond’s Westferry planning application against all advice saved Mr Desmond £40m. That’s two thirds of this funding announcement for urgent food and essentials for the whole country.

  2. Lichfield City of Sanctuary supports this move. There is growing, often hidden, poverty in all parts of Lichfield District. The summer holidays will be a danger time for families. We need arrangements to source, prepare and distribute food to those in need. We cannot stand by. Lichfield District Council must act, and quickly.

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