Children's hunger doesn't go away during the holidays - so what's being done to feed over a million kids?

Every day during term-time, 1.1 million children receive a free school meal.

That is 1.1 million "disadvantaged children" the government recognises as needing one hot meal a day, paid for by the state, because of their family's low income.

When the school terms ends, so do the free school meals, but nothing else changes - family incomes remains low, and their children still need feeding.

As one teacher put it to us, "there's some kids whose only proper meal in a day is their free school meal, and I'm not sure what they do during the school holiday."

Well the answer is, they rely on charity and chance.

There are 1.1 million children in the UK receiving free school meals. Credit: PA

This year the government offered £9 million to 11 organisations to provide food and activities during the summer holidays.

That £9 million will reach 50,000 children.

For the rest, it's pot luck. At least a million children will spend the six weeks holiday relying on volunteers, charity workers, stretched councils, and, as we reported on ITV News, the generosity of strangers to eat.

Some areas provide a lot, other areas less so.

For parents, it can be the longest six weeks of the year. The government knows their income struggles to stretch to give their children enough food when they're at school - so what do they think happens when they're not?

At New Parks Adventure Playground in Leicester, I met mum Sarah Allden.

She takes her 8-year old daughter Nayley and ten-year old son Sam to the community hub every day during the holidays because they provide hot food, fruit and a drink.

Sarah tells me during the six-week holidays she lives "day by day".

"You've got to work out your budget, how you're going to find this extra money, because the money you've living on obviously is covering everything else, bills and what not.

"You're literally left with pence basically and you can't survive like that. I can imagine a lot of children who are not visiting places like this are suffering in silence and for me it's heartbreaking."

But "places like this" are not funded by the government.

Daniel Hewitt speaks to mum of two Sarah Allden at New Parks Adventure Playground in Leicester, a place she relies on to feed her kids. Credit: PA

Last year New Parks got a little bit of money from the Department for Education, but this year it was taken away.

Leicester City Council stepped in and took £30,000 from it's reserves to fund this and other summer clubs to ensure children could get at least one meal a day like they do when at school.

But that isn't enough, in Leicester they had to ask the public for donations, crowdfunding £5000.

ITV News has learned summer clubs in Birkenhead, Barnsley, Bristol, Coventry, Derbyshire and South Shields have done the same.

I don't think it can be stressed enough that these children are recognised by the state as being in need - and yet when the school holidays arrive, the state all but disappears until September.

It doesn't give councils extra money to help, it doesn't increase family benefits.

The Department for Education more than quadrupled it's holiday hunger funding from 2018, and described its programme as "a pilot" to "test" the most "cost-effective way" of intervening in the future.

There is no doubt ensuring children are fed during the holidays will be expensive.

It's very difficult to get an exact figure from the DfE on how much free school meals cost annually, but we're told it's £2.30 per child, per day.

It is believed there are an additional one million children living in poverty who are not eligible for a free school meal. Credit: PA

On those sums, we're looking at approximately £76m to ensure 1.1 million children receive a hot meal during the summer holidays.

Now this doesn't consider the children who don't receive a free school meal.

The Children Society say there are a further one million children living in poverty who don't qualify.

Poverty figures are often disputed, and that is an debate for another article.

What is indisputable however is the 1.1 million children who are fed by the state during some parts of the years but left to go without during the holidays.

Their hunger doesn't go away, and neither is this problem.

How much longer can children rely on charity and chance to eat?