School holidays are usually a happy experience where we spend time together. But for many they’re a time of stress as parents struggle to provide hot meals for their children, and worry about their kids going without.

In term time parents often rely on free school dinners to ensure their children have at least one hot meal a day. But what happens when the schools are shut for half terms and holidays, like the Christmas break?

What is ‘holiday hunger’?

‘Holiday Hunger’ is the phrase used to describe families unable to provide a hot meal for their child or even 3 meals a day during the school holidays.

What’s the cost of school holidays?

The cost of it can be as much as £30-£40 per week per family. It’s an extra cost that many simply can’t afford without sacrificing something else. Quite often that sacrifice is gas and electricity. Heating the home or using the washing machine can be restricted by the added cost of having to provide another meal each weekday per child, plus the added costs Christmas brings.

Almost half of parents who use Fuel Bank are at risk

The Fuel Bank scheme aims to remove the choice between having to heat or eat. It gives extra support for Foodbank users with prepayment meters who are struggling to pay for gas and electricity. This support is given regardless of which energy company supplies them.

The research results make surprising reading.


40% of parents who received Fuel Bank help from the scheme had previously struggled to give their child a hot meal during the summer holidays.

Around 60% of families had to choose between eating and heating. They faced the decision whether to top up their prepayment meter or buy food every week. 20% said they had to choose every single day.

Paul Pickhaver, Director of Kingston Foodbank and Fuel Bank, commented, “When you think of someone struggling with heating or cooking or washing, you tend to think of the winter months. But for families who have no extra money at all, free school dinners are crucial to make sure their children are getting a nutritious, cooked meal every day.”

Fuel Bank Vouchers give much needed crisis support

We know that 40%1 of the people helped through Fuel Bank are children. So it makes the scheme vital in tackling the Holiday Hunger issue. A Fuel Bank Voucher can be used to get parents get back their gas and electricity supply, cook hot meals for their children and leave them more space in the budget for them to buy food or other essentials, especially during the holidays.

If you would like to help us provide Fuel Bank support for more families facing Holiday Hunger, you can donate to the Fuel Bank charity today.

1Fuel Bank data, 2018

2Client name has been changed to protect the privacy of the individual

npower Foundation is a registered Charitable Incorporated Organisation in England & Wales (1175049) and Scotland (SC048330)