SCHOOL summer holidays will leave many families across East Lancashire relying on foodbanks to feed their children, according to experts.

The six-week break poses a huge problem for Foodbanks that provide emergency food for those in need as the absence of free school meals leaves many families struggling to put meals on the table.

The length of the school holidays also means more people are referred to them than during term times.

Charities say the amount of donations can also diminish during the summer months as people go on holiday and the schools, colleges and activity groups that often host food drives and collections close.

Blackburn foodbank, based in Brunswick Street, says that it has already had 30 families referred to it for extra support over the summer – up from the 17 families they fed last year.

At the last count, project manager Ros Duerden said the families referred are made up of 50 adults and 100 children.

She said: “Many families struggle without the sup-port of the free school meal and we are noticing that we are busier this year than last year. We are finding that we are extremely busy recently as the effect of universal credit is felt and that may mean that we find ourselves with even more people to feed this summer.

“We have been collecting food like mad to meet demand and our recent Morecambe Bay walk raised £3,500.

“We always welcome as many donations as possible but at this time of year we really do need the extra support.”

Elsewhere in East Lancs, foodbanks are predicting a similar rise in referrals.

Mandy Newlove at Com-munity Solutions, which runs foodbanks based in Burnley and Accrington, said it finds itself busier than ever during all school holidays.

Caroline Collins, of RAFT Foundation, the Rossendale foodbank, was keen to highlight that it is not just the lack of school meals that mean families face hardship, with uniforms also proving a costly item.