Food banks in Gateshead spring into action to tackle holiday hunger

Gateshead is one of many food banks seeing more and more families ask for help to feed hungry children.

It's just one of many similar organisations across the North East, joining the effort to make sure every child has something to eat.

On Thursday, the Department for Education confirmed schools will not provide free school meal lunches in the February half-term, risking another backlash after it was forced into a U-turn on the issue last year.

It comes just a day after the Department for Education published guidelines on the provision of free meals by schools, following pictures on social media of "woefully inadequate" free school meal parcels.

Images circulated on social media have revealed the free school meal parcels sent to families, included a £30 parcel estimated to contain just over £5 worth of food.

The guidance reads: "Schools do not need to provide lunch parcels or vouchers during the February half-term."

Instead, the government has said there is already wider financial available to help families and children outside of term-time through the Covid Winter Grant Scheme.

The Food Foundation also published an open letter, on free school meals, written "... to express our concern... and to encourage the government... to reform the system for the longer term."

It's backed by health experts and celebrities.

A government spokesperson told us that  "Vulnerable families will continue to receive meals and other essentials over February half term through the £170 million Covid Winter Grant Scheme."

It also said welfare support has increased - and the letter is being looked at.

Yet those delivering donations say as work continues here 

But those who deliver donated food say families are struggling - as the debate continues over how much the government should help - and whether it's enough.