Cynon AM puts holiday hunger on political agenda

Assembly Member Vikki Howells has raised the need to tackle ‘holiday hunger’, so that children and young people in Cynon Valley and throughout Wales do not go hungry during school holidays.

The Cynon Valley AM noted recent research from food bank charity the Trussell Trust, which suggested lone parents and their children, and larger families, are two groups who are more likely to use food banks.

Vikki Howells also noted that in 2015/16, there were over 8,300 children and young people eligible for free school meals in RCT, and whilst they may receive dinners through school during term time, groups including the Trussell Trust have registered an increase in take-up during holidays when there is no access to free school meals.

Vikki Howells AM asked:-

“We know that the Welsh Government has plans for an extended system of lunch and fun clubs.

“How are preparations going ahead of the school holidays, which start in just a few weeks’ time, and what evaluation of the scheme in tackling holiday hunger will take place?”

In response, First Minister Carwyn Jones AM said the Welsh Government was providing £500,000 during 2017-18 to accelerate the roll-out of the summer holiday programme, with Penywaun Primary School in Aberdare being one of the sites benefiting from funding.

The First Minister replied:-

“We are working with the Welsh Local Government Association in order to move the scheme forward in the coming summer holidays.

“Evaluation is in place. Evaluation of the pilot scheme was done, and indeed was published in February 2017, and the findings made in relation to health, social, and education outcomes, and the findings that we saw from the pilot scheme, are very encouraging.”