Foodbanks in Wales brace for hungry children over summer
More children than ever in Wales could go hungry over the six-week school break, it is being warned.
Foodbank networks said they are bracing themselves for increased demand.
Councils in deprived parts of Wales have been allocated £1m over two years to help feed children during the holiday period.
"In the 21st Century I think it's incredibly sad that children are going hungry," one senior council figure told BBC Wales.
Bernie Attridge, the deputy leader of Flintshire council, added: "During term time they can go to breakfast clubs and they get free school dinners, but once they break up, it's frightening to think that some families can't afford food."
The authority intends addressing the problem by providing midday meals at 19 holiday play groups across the county, launching on Thursday under the banner 'Share Your Lunch'.
"Children should not have to go hungry in this day and age," said Mr Attridge.
According to a report by an all-party group of MPs and peers last year, it costs parents who usually rely on free school meals up to £40-a-week extra to feed a single child outside term time.
This year, the independent Eastside Foodbank at Bonymaen's Mount Zion Baptist Church in Swansea has started stockpiling - to ensure there is no repeat.
"We've got a bit of a buffer, but we always need more. The baked bean mountain is more of a foothill at the moment," said the Reverend Chris Lewis, the foodbank's chairman.
They open every Friday to hand out food parcels to about 30 adults and 13 children.
"People will bring the children with them during the half term and summer holidays, but the children don't want to come, they feel embarrassed," he added.
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In Cardiff, seven foodbanks are running six days a week to help those in crisis. They have expressed similar fears for the summer.
"During last year's summer holiday we saw an increase in the number of families coming into our distribution centre which was an increase on the previous year," said Cardiff Foodbank trustee Eleanor Sanders.
"Sadly, for this year we're anticipating an additional increase, that's because families are already struggling when they come into our foodbanks and they rely on school meals."
In Wales, latest figures show there are just over 76,000 children in low-income families eligible for free meals, while the Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimates 185,000 children overall are living in poverty.
For a second year, 16 local authorities across Wales are set to take part in a "Fun and Food" scheme this summer to help address holiday hunger, funded with £500,000 from the Welsh Government.
It will see both breakfast and lunch provided at 56 schools in areas of social deprivation over 12 days in the summer.
Organisers hope it will provided support to about 2,500 children - a thousand more than last year.
In 2017, a third of those who participated were from free school meals homes.
Education Secretary Kirsty Williams said: "We recognise that for some families this is a real and significant issue.
"Those families who have the opportunity to have a meal during the school day can find it a struggle, so there is the issue of food but it's also the challenge of providing enriching fun activities that are free of charge during the summer holidays as well, keeping children physically and mentally active."