Children who face going hungry through the holidays without a school meal are among those being targeted by action to tackle the region’s food crisis.
Fife’s public and voluntary sectors are pulling together to prevent holiday hunger and help the estimated 24,000 adults in the region who do not have enough to eat.
With the use of foodbanks on the rise and youngsters who rely on a free school lunch about to lose their most nutritious meal of the day for several weeks, Fife Council is driving a more coordinated approach to addressing food insecurity.
Action includes a raft of holiday play schemes where children will be given breakfast, snacks and a meal, and cooking workshops.
Councillor Judy Hamilton, chair of the community and housing services committee, said she was appalled that so many Fifers were unable to put food on the table and were living in Dickensian conditions.
She said: “The roll out of Universal Credit is directly affecting families who are already struggling to make ends meet.
“Benefits and wages are simply not increasing in line with the cost of living.
“We have seen a rise in zero-hours contracts and unstable work, meaning that even many working families are experiencing poverty, and food insecurity is a symptom of that.
“It is disgrace that in this day and age people are suffering in this way. We have to do what we can to combat this problem and help create a fairer Fife.”
A multi-agency food insecurity steering group is building on existing initiatives, which include eight foodbanks across the region, 22 community cafes providing free and low-cost food, Buckhaven’s community fridge, food growing projects and provision of food for children and families during the holidays.
A new community food hub is to be launched in Kirkcaldy later this year.
The council has a community food team supporting these projects and training and supporting the 150 food champions to deliver cooking sessions and courses in communities.
It is also compiling information about help available, area by area, so those in need know where to turn.
Fife is also one of three local authority areas taking part in A Menu for Change, a three-year project led by organisations including Oxfam and the Poverty Alliance to help before they reach crisis.
Mrs Hamilton said: “Communities and organisations across the third and public sectors are pulling together to tackle these issues and a lot of good work is under way.
“I am so proud and humbled by this and recognise that they cannot do this alone, that there is a very pressing need to support our communities and local government will play our part in the fight against poverty.”