A new fund to stop children going hungry during the school holidays will be put forward in Angus Council’s draft budget.
Angus Council leader David Fairweather said the £80,000 investment being proposed would be a great first step to solving school holiday hunger.
Councillor Fairweather said it was a sustainable model which would save costs both within the council and the NHS by reducing demand.
The initiative would also empower families to learn new skills such as being taught to cook and budget to save money and promote health.
This will all be done under the banner of enjoying a fun activity while having a healthy meal.
Many councils now run schemes to provide free meals to children during school holidays but the provision varies from area to area.
Councillor Fairweather said: “In 2018 we trialled an approach to provide meals for children in Brechin who normally receive free school meals over the October holiday period.
“We now want to invest £80,000 to extend our ways of reducing holiday hunger in 2019-20 to help support families.”
Anti-poverty campaigners have long been concerned that free school meals are, in effect, a benefit which is only available for part of the year.
They have warned that during school holidays some children could go hungry – or some parents could go without so their children are well fed.
Partner agencies would work together on the Angus initiative “to enable children and young people to build relationships and access food in a non-stigmatised/dignified way”.
The administration believes the “preventative agenda” would support families in the early stages of need and reduce demand for more complex and expensive support further down the line.
They also say the initiative will promote inclusion and equity for all children and prevent loss of learning during the holiday periods which can be due to numerous factors including food insecurity.
One Angus headteacher, who asked not to be named for fear of identifying pupils, said: “Food poverty has been an increasing issue for our families.
“We have taken a number of steps to work with families to support them in providing nutritious food for their children.
“We have worked with the school community to run a Kindness Box where people ‘take what they need and give when we can’.
“This has been very well used by the community and now sustains itself.
“We also have a number of foodbanks in the local area that we refer families to.
“Our free breakfast club continues to grow in numbers and is extremely busy.
“We have children coming to school hungry, some of them having not had a hot meal since their previous school lunch.
“We are becoming increasingly aware of the pressures families, who rely on free school meal allocation, face during holiday time.”
Councillor Fairweather added that the initiative was an example of the council using its £250m budget to make “real change to people’s lives” over the next three years.