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Tackling holiday hunger headfirst: Spread the Happiness charity helps families in need by distributing free food hampers in Manchester

Spread the Happiness founder Shonette Bason-Wood

In a bid to tackle the crisis that is holiday hunger this October half term, national charity Spread the Happiness has distributed free food hampers to families in need in Manchester.

The organisation has gathered thousands of food and drink items to be put towards essential happiness hampers, that have now been delivered to schools up and down the country to support 163 pupils and their families.

Families whose children would normally receive free school meals and attend breakfast club, can struggle with the extra cost of feeding their offspring over the autumn break. With their child not being in full-time education and at home during the day, this can mean bigger bills for food and daily essentials – leading to the reality dubbed ‘holiday hunger’. Some parents even go without food themselves, to make sure they can afford the food their children need.

Reports out this week highlight how stretched families have become, with hundreds of people being forced to live in cars and caravans due to not being able to afford the ever-increasing price of rent. In Manchester, according to a report by End Child Poverty, almost half of children (44%) were living in poverty in 2017, after housing costs; with child poverty being most prevalent in the larger cities.

Over the past four weeks, the Spread the Happiness team has worked tirelessly to collect thousands of items to help those in need – with each hamper packed full of food and family essentials, including tinned produce, pasta, rice, toilet roll and toothpaste.

The hampers were then distributed across the country to chosen primary schools in highly deprived areas, including Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff and Middlesbrough.

Spread the Happiness was launched in 2011 by stand-up comedian and motivational thinker Shonette Bason-Wood. As well as regular charity and fundraising projects, the organisation visits schools in highly deprived areas to aid teachers in neurological-based ways of teaching for pupils at a disadvantage.

Speaking of this year’s October hamper project, Shonette said: “Holiday hunger is a widespread issue across the country – I’ve met parents who will live off toast for weeks on end during the holidays, to be able to give their children proper food and meals. It is a terrible thing and we need to do as much as we can to support them.

“We are hugely grateful for the help and generosity of everyone involved at DHL. These hampers will make a huge difference to the lives of families across the autumn break.”