A report by our Community Insights Team
Around 14-15% of pupils (year 3 and upwards) in the South West are eligible for free school meals, whilst this is slightly better than the national average of 17.3%, a recent report by End Child Poverty showed that 25% of children in the South West are living in poverty.
Around 10% of children under 15 live with a parent who is food insecure, according to a 2017 Unicef report, and almost half of young people (16-24) who are also mothers admitted to missing meals to provide for their children in a survey by the Young Women’s Trust.
Whilst we saw lots of free food parcel delivers during lockdown, many of these have now dried up, and people in food poverty are now accessing the usual services. The Trussell Trust have seen a 23% increase in demand over the last 6 months – the busiest on record.
Many places in Devon have stepped up to provide children with free meals over half term, after the government decided not to. Devon Live have put together this list of restaurants and cafés where children can get free meals.
Here are a few examples of other community offers, there are many more across Devon.
Project food (formerly HALFF), based in Axminster, usually support people to gain the skills and knowledge to enable them to have a healthy diet, through cooking sessions and other support. They are following on from their emergency food offer from lockdown, and are providing free packed lunches for children, as well as fruit and veg boxes.
Combe Martin Community Food Bank are also providing ‘unpacked lunches’ for children this half term, on top of their usual activity.
The Hot Food Project in Exeter are continuing to operate over half term, providing Hot Meals to families throughout half term. They are also looking for drivers on Wednesday & Friday for about 1 hour around lunchtime. If you can spare an hour and help out please email email@example.com.
The Trussell Trust support 7 food banks across Devon, and, despite a massive increase in demand, they are continuing to give out free 3-day food parcels to those in need.
If you would like information on how to access a food bank local to you, or where you can get free meals for children during half-term, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07923 230969 Monday-Thursday.
Photo: Packed lunches for children being given out at the market in South Molton courtesy of Adam and Ioni Drake.