The NAHT headteachers' union has thrown its weight behind legislation to provide free meals for children during school holidays, branding "holiday hunger" an "unnecessary tragedy".
The union is backing a private members bill sponsored by Labour MP Frank Field, which would require councils to facilitate the delivery of programmes that provide free meals and activities for children during the holidays.
The bill has its second reading in the House of Commons today.
Anne Lyons, national president of NAHT, said: “Like many school leaders, I worry about what happens to the children in my school during the holidays. According to the Children's Society, there are four million children in the UK suffering the unnecessary tragedy of holiday hunger.
“Holidays can be a time of enormous stress for families, particularly the ones that rely on their school for support with childcare, activities and heaven forbid, food," she said.
"During term time, there are all sorts of other experiences that schools provide for young people at low or zero cost to parents that just aren’t available in the holidays. This forces families to dig even deeper into their pockets during the holidays, with financial commitments to activities running to hundreds of pounds in lots of cases."
She added: “Cuts to local authority budgets now mean that the support they can offer families in the holidays is inadequate. Children who go hungry during the holiday often start the new term at a disadvantage compared to their more fortunate peers who have enjoyed a more wholesome diet and lots of activity. We have to change this urgently if we are serious about making the UK a fairer and more equal place to live.”