Cash to help tackle Preston's holiday hunger issues

Preston Town Hall
Preston Town Hall

A council funding stream will be used to tackle Preston’s holiday hunger issues, months after a councillor called on the town hall to take action.

The city council’s cabinet last week approved plans to allocate more than £20,000 to alleviate food poverty.

A report says the cash will be handed to the council’s Community Engagement Team to work with schools in some of the city’s most deprived wards.

The move comes after Coun Jade Morgan urged the council to back a Holiday Hunger Bill tabled in Parliament.

READ MORE: Support for plans to tackle holiday hunger

Coun Morgan said the plight of pupils who go hungry in holidays because they have no free school meals was a “truly shocking” issue.

Coun Morgan said: “For children and young people to be at risk of hunger in 2017 is astounding.” The motion was supported by a vast majority of the council chamber in October.

The Bill, proposed by Frank Field MP, would place a legal duty on local authorities to ensure free meals for youngsters who would otherwise go without, funded by increased tax on sugary drinks. It is currently going through the parliamentary system.

The cabinet report states tackling food poverty is a priority for the town hall, with the £21,806 found as part of funding for the voluntary, community and faith sector grant.

The move comes as a political row has broken out with Labour ministers claiming proposed eligibility changes could see children missing out on free meals. But the Department of Education has said “by 2022 around 50,000 more children will benefit from a free school meal compared to the previous benefits system.”

READ MORE: Will my child lose free school meals?

Coun Matthew Brown, cabinet member for inclusion , said: “Responding to the needs of the community by addressing serious issues such as food poverty, or holiday hunger is very important to the council, particularly being able to do so in a sustainable way.” He added they were working with partners on solutions.