Holiday Hunger Crisis

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NEARLY 150,000 children in the Midlands are at risk of going hungry over the summer holidays, according to a Stoke-on-Trent MP.

The holiday hunger crisis has got so bad that a new pilot scheme involving the city council and local schools has been launched to serve 10,000 meals in the area during the school holidays to youngsters who’d normally get a free school meal. It’s being funded by charities and Stoke North Labour MP Ruth Smeeth says she wants the government to foot the bill.

Ruth Smeeth said that six out of ten parents with household incomes of less than £25,000 have said they weren’t always able to buy food out of term times, and a third of parents have skipped a meal so that their children could eat during the school holidays.

Smeeth said: ‘In my own constituency of Stoke-on-Trent North and Kidsgrove 31% of children are living in poverty. I’ve heard tragic stories from teachers about children coming back to school in September malnourished. This is simply heartbreaking.’

Meanwhile new figures show that Victorian diseases like scurvy, gout, TB and rickets have returned to Somerset. Diseases which were rife in the Victorian era are making a comeback.

The new figures from NHS Digital show an increasing number of people in the county are being admitted to hospital for conditions linked to bad diet, malnutrition and poverty.

Across the Bristol, North Somerset, Somerset and South Gloucestershire Area Team in the year 2015-2016, 1,785 people have been admitted for treatment after being given a primary or secondary diagnosis of gout, a notoriously painful type of arthritis where crystals form within the joints.

Tuberculosis a bacterial lung infection, usually spread through inhaling tiny droplets from the coughs and sneezes of other infected people – was seen in 192 people treated by the NHS, along with 11 cases of whooping cough and one of measles. There were single cases of scurvy, typhoid and measles.

The area also saw 22 cases of scarlet fever, six cases of mumps and 15 diagnoses of rickets.

Associated with knobbly-kneed, bow-legged children, the bone-weakening disease became much less common more than a half-century ago, when doctors realised that it could be prevented with vitamin D. And 298 people were admitted for treatment after being diagnosed with malnutrition.