THE number of youngsters requiring help to combat holiday hunger is up by more than a third.

New figures from West Dunbartonshire Community Foodshare found their uptake of holiday brunch packs jumped from 576 in 2018 to 775 over seven weeks this summer.

The number of uniforms given out through the uniform bank is also up in 2019 as there are more hurdles for parents and carers paying for new clothing.

Clair Coyle, trustee at the foodshare, told the Post parents were saying they skipped meals to ensure their children had enough - something that’s been consistent for over six years the charity’s been running.

She said: “It’s an increase in need. Maybe more people are getting to know about it, but everyone who used it needed the support.

“We got really good feedback from people - they were saying it was a massive help and they were struggling with the increased need to have food in the house.

“It took a big weight off their shoulders.

“We heard stories from parents who had not eaten to be able to provide meals for their kids.”

The brunch packs included extras such as fruit, bread and items that could be used for other meals as well.

But even in buying basic tinned goods, the foodshare has seen prices increase in the past year, a pressure being faced by families every day.

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“Giving these bags has meant there’s enough food,” said Clair. “If there are three kids, all three get the bags and there’s probably enough to feed a couple of children for the week.”

The brunch packs will also be available during the October week break for schools.

The charity’s uniform bank has also been busy this summer with their 2019 figures already ahead of 2018.

There were 205 uniforms provided over the summer weeks and 40 last term.

And they expect the numbers to rise further.

Clair said the biggest challenge for families was older children, particularly pupils going into fifth or sixth year where uniform grants aren’t provided until they return to school.

Other parents have told the foodshare there are problems accessing support for kinship carers, particularly grandparents looking after pupils where they are already living off tight pensions.

“This is just an added pressure,” said Clair, who said Universal Credit has also caused delays to uniform grants. “These are wee hurdles that could be removed.”

All Scottish local authorities wait until pupils return to S5 or S6 before uniform grants are available, and residents need to be told they’re eligible for Universal Credit before they can access support.