The cost-of-living crisis is having a huge impact on families, with seven out of 10 households feeling worse off than they did a year ago. This has translated into making food changes, with more than half of families looking for cheaper alternatives and 28% cutting back on healthier options.
Worryingly, parents are foregoing their meals so their children can eat.
Independent research commissioned by Meals & More was undertaken by Obsurvant among 1,028 parents in June 2023.
One in five expect to miss at least one meal over the summer holiday period, with a further 36% saying they will eat less.
“The findings of our survey are incredibly sad and concerning, with half of parents having had to seek out some sort of support over the past year from friends, family or charities,” said Peter McGrath, operation director for Meals & More.
“And with more than half of all people thinking it will be at least two years before their financial situation will improve, this is going to be a problem for some time to come.
“With the school holidays approaching, parents will be having sleepless nights worrying about how they are going to put food on the table. Charities like Meals & More can provide some respite by funding holiday clubs across the country, where children can get a healthy meal.
“The problem, however, is now so widespread that we can’t help everyone and we need more help from the Government.”
Meals & More was founded by foodservice wholesaler Brakes - which is part of Sysco GB - in 2015 when it recognised that millions of children were missing out on nutritious food when schools were closed for the holidays.
While there has been greater recognition of the problem in recent years, 90% of people still underestimate or do not know the sheer scale of the problem, which sees more than 4 million children living in poverty in the UK.
What is particularly worrying is that, with the cost of living crisis, it is likely that even more children will be pulled into food poverty in the coming years.
Meals & More has grown from supporting three clubs in 2015 to now partnering with over 38 delivery partners and 250+ holiday clubs, delivering over 1.3 million meals to date. It is also supported by many heavy hitters in the food industry, including Kellogg’s, Finsbury Foods, Lantmännen Unibake, PepsiCo and pladis, among others.
The charity also works to provide underprivileged children with life-enhancing activities during the school holidays.
Meals & More are acutely aware that many children who attend the holiday clubs run by its delivery partners do not have the same opportunities that other children have over the school break. In fact, almost 50% of UK parents have shelved plans for a summer vacation this year, which means that millions of children will miss out on that happy experience.
As such, last year it launched a programme called Big Day Out, aimed at giving young children living with poverty at least one special memory over the summer holidays.
Through grants provided to its delivery partners, the Big Day Out provided fun, outdoor events for over 1,300 children and nearly 500 adults in 2022. It expects to do the same this year.
Meals & More also funds research to evaluate the impact of holiday provision on the health, social and economic wellbeing and academic attainment of children, as well as the longer-term educational outcomes for children living in food poverty and the bearing that holiday club meal provision can have on these outcomes.