No child in Fife will go hungry during the school holidays this summer, Fife Council has vowed.
The authority has unveiled a £400,000 plan to alleviate holiday hunger for the region’s poorest children with the provision of hot meals and packed lunches for both youngsters and adult family members at schools and community centres across the Kingdom.
The Café Inc project will operate throughout the seven weeks, starting on July 1, with the aim to reach all those who otherwise would go hungry without access to a lunchtime meal.
The provision follows a successful pilot scheme rolled out in Cowdenbeath during the Easter period when 7,150 hot and cold meals were handed out during the 10 day holiday.
Labour councillor Judy Hamilton, convener of the community and housing services committee which approved the scheme, said it was a “damned disgrace” that the service was needed, but commended the council for stepping in to support those in difficulty.
She added: “I’m so proud of what we are doing here for children and parents.
“In Fife, we are serving around 9,000 free school meals every day during term time, and for some of those families to provide an extra meal at home for a child or a number of siblings creates a breaking point, where school holidays are dreaded.”
She said foodbank referrals were also increasing as families are stretched to the limit.
“Hungry children and the underlying causes of child poverty are well documented. Zero-hour contracts, benefit sanctions, ill health and the roll out of Universal Credit all have their part to play in making the holiday period unbearable for families,” she added.
While the project gained widespread approval among councillors, the cost of individual meals was questioned by Conservative councillor Darren Watt, who urged better use of third party organisations.
“As a father of three the £3.23 cost per meal seems to be a lot, I have concerns over the long-term sustainability of such provision,” he said.
The project’s success will be evaluated after the end of the holiday with the prospect of further provision for the October and Christmas school breaks already earmarked.