Shocking new research reveals families impacted by poverty during the pandemic are turning to their local school for food.
A fifth (18%) of schools say they’ve started a foodbank to provide families in their community with access to emergency food parcels
The study ‘Filling the poverty gap: the increasing role of schools in supporting families’ released today by Kellogg’s* also shows that a third (34 per cent) of teachers surveyed said their school delivered food parcels to pupils’ homes and 23 per cent have provided fresh fruit and vegetables to local families during the crisis.
Schools say they can identify which families need help and their facilities are important community hubs as they have remained open throughout the pandemic.
Three quarters of teachers (73 per cent) also said their schools delivered items such as IT equipment to children’s homes during lockdown and 5 per cent even provided emergency loans.
This extra support for struggling families has been paid for by the school budget (49 per cent of schools), food donations from external sources (31 per cent), local government funding (a quarter) and support from external organisations (18 per cent).
The situation has become increasingly worse throughout the pandemic with eight in ten (83 per cent)** teachers claiming that the January lockdown has put increased financial pressure on parents. They estimate that 19 per cent of children on average aren’t getting enough access to food during these current restrictions.
Teachers claim that better support should have been provided throughout this crisis with an increased quantity of food that can be purchased with vouchers (55 per cent), increasing Universal Credit (46 per cent) and improving access to fresh fruit and vegetables for families (56 per cent).
When surveyed 47 per cent of teachers said they were concerned provision in the February half term for children eligible for free school meals would be impacted by difficulty accessing the vouchers from the local council and 55 per cent say families who haven’t accessed the government winter fund before may not be sure how to do this.
A quarter of schools (26 per cent) have kept their breakfast clubs running for key worker pupils and 27 per cent of teachers say they personally store food in a cupboard or desk in order to give to hungry children.
Chris Silcock, Kellogg’s UK managing director comments: “Our study highlights the hugely important role schools have played throughout the pandemic to help struggling families. This will need to continue post lockdown, so we want to do our bit to ensure that the children that have missed out on so much, don’t miss out on breakfast when schools reopen.”
“We are donating more than ever before to school breakfast clubs this year, providing funding for a minimum of 500 schools in the most disadvantaged communities of the UK and food through Magic Breakfast and FareShare.”