SHOCKING: Thousands of Derbyshire children are going hungry
Thousands of Derbyshire children are experiencing food poverty '“ and going to school underweight and undernourished.
Figures from Financial Action and Advice Derbyshire (FAAD) show 23,079 families received emergency produce from one of the county’s food banks between April 2015 and March this year. Of those, 6,276 were children.
The worrying statistics emerged this week as a Bolsover school helped launch End Hunger UK, a national campaign which aims to end food poverty.
Bev Parker, policy and partnerships manager at FAAD, said: “There are several reasons for food poverty and people turning to food banks – including changes or delays to benefits, low income and debt.
“Many thousands of families are having to make the choice between heating and eating – and children are the helpless victims. Far too many youngsters are going to school underweight and undernourished and there can be significant impacts. Things really shouldn’t be like this in 2016.”
During the launch of End Hunger UK on Monday, children from Bolsover Church of England Junior School took part in a cookery challenge to create a meal from a food bank parcel.
The school runs a daily breakfast club which is attended by up to 60 pupils, giving them the chance to get the day off to a healthy start.
Headteacher Rowena Herbert said: “We’re committed to providing youngsters with healthy, nutritious meals. They help improve concentration and reduce restlessness throughout the day. In addition, healthy, nutritious meals aid children’s long-term bone, muscle and general physical development as well as their mental and emotional health.”
Gareth Greenwood, community project development officer for the Diocese of Derby, praised the End Hunger UK campaign – and said it was important to get more people talking about the issue.
He added: “With Brexit and a change in Government, the food poverty issue seems to have dropped down the political agenda – but that needs to change. Everyone should have access to good food.
“We’re choosing to highlight the damaging effects of food poverty on children because they are able to do little about it themselves.”
Twenty-six-year-old Stephanie Furborough, who used to work in Bolsover, also told the event of her experiences of food poverty.
She said: “Over five years, I often went without eating because I didn’t have enough money. It was a nightmare time. I hope this campaign makes a difference.”
n For more information about End Hunger UK, visit www.endhungeruk.org.