NEARLY 900 children in Ryedale are living in poverty as young families on low wages struggle to buy food.

According to a report by Public Health England, children are missing out on daily essentials as families struggle to keep up with the high cost of living in a rural area.

Ryedale Food Bank, set up in July last year, has seen an increase in the number of families with young children using the service, in particular those who are stuck on low wages and are struggling to afford to live as a result.

Committee member Lesley Hurley said: “It is families with young children who are struggling the most, especially around the summer holidays when they are even more strapped for cash, and during the winter as well.

“It is families who are on low wages and are stuck in that low-wage category and it all has a knock-on effect, particularly in a rural area where it is more expensive to live. For example, if they suddenly have transport issues and can’t afford to fix them, they may not be able to get to work or to school. The Public Health England statistics are definitely reflected in what we are seeing in our own figures.”

The report, which aims to help local government and health services understand what needs to be done to tackle problem areas, said that 10.8 per cent of children under 16 – a total of 880 – were living in poverty. The average figure for England is 20.6 per cent.

The report also stated that 18.1 per cent of children in school Year 6 – 69 – are classed as obese and as of 2012, 22.8 per cent of adults in Ryedale were obese.

In February, the Gazette & Herald reported that Ryedale had one of the fattest populations in the country according to Government figures, ranking fourth in a list of local authorities.

Gary Housden, head of planning and housing at Ryedale District Council, said the council was working on a number of initiatives to tackle the problem.

He said: “We have given cash assistance to the CAB and food bank and are also working to deliver more affordable housing and support skills development, so we can increase aspirations of school leavers who have relatively low levels of achievement.”


Meal deal plugs food gap

RYEDALE Lions Club is helping children in need over the school holidays by donating breakfast meals to Ryedale Food Bank.

The provision of cereals, milk and eggs is designed to help vulnerable families over the holidays when no school meals are available. The Lions are also donating puddings and custard.

Food bank manager John Mackenzie said: “We are very grateful to the Lions. The first breakfasts are going out to families who we know are in desperate need of help, often because of a problem beyond their control.”

The Lions were prompted to act after a recent public health report revealed that 900 children are living in poverty in Ryedale.

Lions member Ray Cordery said: “Most of us will think this is a fairly affluent area, but there are pockets of real deprivation.”

The food has been bought by the Lions with support from Lidl.

It will be distributed via Pickering and Malton food banks. Donations to the food bank can be made at Hope Central and the Gazette & Herald, in Malton.