The biggest network of foodbanks has appealed for donations to deal with an expected increase in demand for emergency supplies for children this summer.
The Trussell Trust said its 420 foodbanks provided more than 204,000 three-day emergency supplies last summer, 74,000 of which went to children, 3,500 more than in May and June.
The charity said more than a third of food distributed by its network throughout the year goes to children, but there is extra financial pressure to provide main meals during the school holidays for families who rely on free school meals.
Last summer more food was distributed by the Trust than was donated, prompting the charity to ask the public to help out this year.
Samantha Stapley, director of operations at the Trussell Trust, said: “Foodbanks cannot, and must not, be a long-term solution to hunger at any time of year.
“No-one should face going hungry and, although our network will be doing all they can this summer to help families struggling to make the money they have stretch to cover the essentials, no charity can replace people having enough money for the basics.
“There are changes we can make as a nation to help during the holidays, but if we are to protect each other from hunger whatever the time of year, we have to go further than that.
“We know particular groups of people are most likely to need a foodbank, so let’s make sure no-one is swept into destitution.
“Our benefits system can, and must, act as an anchor to protect people from being pulled into poverty.”
A Government spokesman said: “We are committed to supporting families to improve their lives, and employment remains the best route to achieve that.
“We recently announced a £2 million fund for organisations to support disadvantaged families during the school holidays, which can include providing healthy meals.
“Meanwhile, we have a record employment rate, household incomes have never been higher and there are 300,000 fewer children living in absolute poverty than in 2010.
“Our welfare reforms offer parents tailored support to move into work, ensuring that even more families can enjoy the opportunities and benefits that work can bring.”
Margaret Greenwood, shadow work and pensions secretary, said: “It is a scandal that this summer, thousands of families are having to rely on foodbanks to stave off hunger.
“Child poverty in the UK shows no sign of slow down; over four million children are growing up in poverty and that number is set to rise sharply over this Parliament as a direct result of government policies.
“The government needs to take stock of the impact that its social security policies are having on the health and wellbeing of children.”