THE SUMMER holidays will leave many families across the North-East relying on foodbanks to feed their children, according to experts.

So-called ‘holiday hunger’ means a significant increase in demand for emergency food supplies as provided by the region’s ever-growing number of food-banks.

Costs associated with the summer holidays plunge many families into poverty and make them “transitionally poor”, according to foodbank manager Lisa Marsh.

Ms Marsh manages the King’s Church Foodstore Network in Darlington, which opened its fourth distribution point at St Andrew’s Church in Haughton Green today (Wednesday, July 9).

She said families were going hungry as a result of having to provide more meals, pay for expensive school uniforms and arrange more child care.

She said: “In our experience, whenever there are school holidays more than a week long there’s a big increase in people needing our help.

“A lot of children get free school meals and when the holidays come, there’s nothing there to replace that.

“When they have parents who are struggling, that free school meal is often the main meal of the day for children.

“The holidays have a huge impact on the ability of some families to provide for themselves and for their children.

“We’ll see parents going without meals to feed their families and we get single parents who usually have their children on a weekend suddenly having to take on extra childcare and feed them through the week too.

“There’s also an impact on the elderly who might be struggling to feed themselves but won’t say no to looking after their grandchildren.”

Ms Marsh called for better provision for families needing support outside of term time and appealed for foodbank donations ahead of the anticipated surge in demand.

The King’s Church network gave out 3,563 bags of food between September and January, which would go towards making as many as 6,500 meals for struggling families.

Ms Marsh said: “The situation is sad. It’s good that we have been able to open another distribution point and make it easier for people to get food but it’s sad because there are people for whom foodbanks are no longer a short term thing.”

Donations to the independent King’s Church Foodstore can be made at the King’s Centre on Whessoe Road in Darlington.

For more details and opening times, call 07403402361.