Brakes hosted the second industry forum into holiday hunger at the House of Commons in Westminster.
With over 80 attendees, including Members of Parliament, charities, Brakes suppliers and Brakes delivery partners who run the Meals & More holiday clubs, the day was a thought-provoking blend of holiday hunger statistics, research into the impact of the school holidays on children's wellbeing, case studies by Brakes suppliers and speeches by MPs who are passionate about tackling holiday hunger.
On the morning of the event, Frank Field MP released the report from the All Party mini-enquiry into holiday hunger, to which Ken McMeikan gave evidence, and both he and Meals & More are referenced extensively throughout. The report makes six recommendations, including passing a Bill to extend free school meals into the school holidays and securing 10% of the income that will be raised by the tax on sugary drinks to support children with food and activities during the 13 weeks that they are not at school.
The forum was opened by Sharon Hodgson, Shadow Minister for Public Health and MP for Washington and Sunderland West, who is also a great supporter of Meals & More and the work that Brakes do to tackle holiday hunger.
Ton Christiaanse, Brakes UK CEO, spoke about the progress being made with Meals & More and made a plea for everyone to helping to create a movement against holiday hunger, whether by writing to their local MP, signing up to support our holiday club programme or raising money. He also announced that Brakes UK is pledging a further £500,000 over the next 5 years to Meals & More which is fantastic news for the programme, the clubs and the children we support.
(Image: Ton speaking at the event)
"The current situation with child food poverty, which affects more than 3.5m children in the UK, is completely unacceptable. In today's society, we simply cannot allow child hunger to continue. We launched the Meals & More initiative to start a movement, a movement that will change the lives of millions of children for the better. But we need more support from other food businesses and from the government. In order to truly make a difference, we need to ensure that we are all working together to eliminate this blight on our society. Together we will make that difference," says Ton.
Also speaking were Tony Davison, Commercial Manager at Quorn, and Hazel Detsiny, Managing Director of Unilever Food Solutions about the work they are doing with Meals & More and how passionate they are about supporting the programme in the long-term. In addition, Alison Garnham, CEO of the Child Poverty Action Group, and Professor Greta Defeyter, Faculty Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor Strategic Planning and Engagement, Northumbria University, gave updates on the latest statistics around holiday hunger and the research into the impact this is having on our children.
(Image: Brakes panel in discussion)
Pem Hulusi, Brakes Programme Manager for Meals & More says, "Yesterday was the high point of my working life, and it's down to the incredible support that we get from the team at Brakes, as well as our wonderful suppliers and the delivery partners who run the clubs. A year ago we could only have dreamed that Meals & More would be where it is now, holding forums at the House of Commons and supporting the launch of a national cross-party report, and yet we feel like we're only at the beginning of our journey! Thank you to everyone who supports"