Free meals for poverty-stricken families in Angus will be offered during the October holidays after the success of a summer “experiment” to tackle holiday hunger.
Families received more than £11,000 worth of food vouchers during the summer holidays as 600 families attended support and activities sessions.
The council‘s first annual report on child poverty revealed earlier this year just under one in five children in Angus lived in families that could not afford basic necessities, with the problem worst in the east of Arbroath
The pilot aimed to support “our most vulnerable families access food in a non-stigmatised way during the holiday periods.”
Holiday hunger is a problem for children who rely on free school meals only provided during term time.
During the 2019 school summer holidays workers invited families to activities sessions and lunch or simply to collect a £10 ‘food only’ voucher.
Families, after being identified through the free school meals information, could receive one voucher per child, per week.
A mix of Angus Council staff, local volunteers and charitable organisations hosted the sessions, which also offered free sanitary products and access to specialist support from experts in welfare and benefits.
Dr Pauline Stephen, director of schools and learning, will update councillors on the success of the £84,000 scheme on Tuesday.
She said: “Reducing child poverty is one of the key priorities in the council plan. Child poverty can undermine the health, wellbeing and educational attainment of the children who experience it.”
She said the council’s schools and learning service secured funding from Angus Council and Cash for Kids to run the pilot.
“The programme was designed to support those families most at risk by providing free activities, lunch, sanitary products and access to specialist support if required. Families were able to access support from experts in welfare and benefits, health, literacy and learning through play.
“The impact of support provided at the welfare rights drop-in sessions has been positive.”
She said 63 families had accessed this support with 16 going on to receive more help.
“Plans for the October provision are underway. We will continue to work closely with partners to provide opportunities for children and families to access activities, support services and meals free of charge.”
Sessions ran in Forfar, Brechin, Montrose, Carnoustie, Friockheim, Tealing, Arbroath and Kirriemuir.