Greater Manchester is stepping up support for children and young people who need access to quality food during school holidays.
Despite an extension of the Covid Local Support Grant from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) up to the age of 30, meals for children and adolescents during the summer holidays.
In response, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) is funding additional Emergency Food Cards for children and young people during the summer vacation. The No Child Should Be Hungry Initiative was launched in October 2020 and has made over 4,365 cards available to young people in need across the Greater Manchester area.
Greater Manchester will provide 900 prepaid cards for use in a number of supermarkets in each municipality. £ 5 credit will be charged to each card to allow young people in need access to groceries during the summer holidays.
In addition to the Emergency Food Cards, Greater Manchester has set up a funding platform to support the No Child Should Get Hungry initiative to alleviate holiday hunger. The local charity Forever Manchester provides GMCA with charity fund management and grant service.
Anyone who feels they can donate to help people who may be holiday hungry can do so at this website: No Child Should Go Hungry Fund
The number of children and young people entitled to free school meals has increased in Greater Manchester. Data from the January 2021 school census shows that over 120,000 students in schools in the Greater Manchester area were eligible for free school meals. That is about 26% of all students.
There are also a significant number of children and families who are not entitled to free school meals but who are in financial need. The COVID-19 pandemic created a number of factors that leave people in a more vulnerable position but may not be eligible for additional assistance. These include increased unemployment and deprivation, as well as the insecurity that the end of vacation and the lifting of the eviction ban brings with it.
The Greater Manchester Mayor and GMCA will work closely with partners in each area of the community such as volunteer and charities, the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership and local businesses to ensure there is a shared approach to tackling vacation hunger.
In addition to the additional support provided in Greater Manchester, residents are encouraged to access support that is already available. One program people may not be aware of is Healthy Start Vouchers, and Citizens Advice Greater Manchester has launched a campaign to increase the acceptance of the vouchers in Greater Manchester. If you’re pregnant or have children under the age of four, you can get free coupons or payments every four weeks for things like cow’s milk, fresh, frozen, or canned fruits and vegetables, and baby food.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said: “While I welcome the government’s extension of the Covid Local Support Grant, I hear from the Greater Manchester councils that more needs to be done to help young people who are starving are threatened over the summer vacation.
“We’re stepping up additional support by providing 9,000 emergency grocery vouchers across the metropolitan area and setting up a resident fundraising platform to tackle the vacation hunger in Greater Manchester. I want to thank all of the organizations who worked with us to support our No Child Should Go Hungry campaign. We worked closely with the Co-op when we launched the Emergency Food Vouchers last October, and worked with partners like Huggg and Forever Manchester to provide additional support for this summer and the future.
“By building on what we have learned from reducing homelessness and poor sleep in Greater Manchester, we aim to build a strong, cross-societal ‘No Child Should Be Hungry’ campaign to tackle food poverty and vacation hunger as a long-term problem.”
Combating food poverty and its causes are key priorities for the Mayor and GMCA. In addition to the “No child should go hungry” initiative, Greater Manchester was the first urban region to support a campaign calling for the “right to food” to be made mandatory by law.
The Right to Food campaign, launched by Fans Supporting Foodbanks, is calling for a law change to make access to food a legal right for all in the UK, making the government legally responsible for helping people who suffer from food poverty.
Greater Manchester will also seek to create a food insecurity action network. This is intended to be a grassroots, community-led partnership that initially promotes measures to support the “No Child Should Get Hungry” initiative.
For more information on eligibility and how to apply for Healthy Start Vouchers from Citizens Advice Greater Manchester, please visit: Vouchers for a healthy start