Help to ensure Fife children are fed during the coronavirus pandemic is to continue until the schools return in August.
Direct payments to the families of children who qualify for free school meals will be paid until July 1, it has been confirmed.
Fife Council is now considering how to continue the service during the summer holiday but has said it will likely be a combination of payments and the Cafe Inc-style provision which proved popular last year.
The families of 11,254 youngsters are now receiving £11,50 per week from the council towards their food bills, at a cost of almost £130,000 weekly.
That is 921 more children than a month ago as the effects of furlough and job losses kick in.
Councillors said it was vital this continued until the end of term and are seeking to identify a further £700,000 to extend the scheme.
Options for the weeks following that will be discussed next month.
The council’s Labour co-leader David Ross said it was unlikely the pioneering Cafe Inc initiative, which provided 125,000 meals last summer and Easter, could go ahead in the same form this year due to social distancing rules.
In 2019, 21 schools and community venues were opened to address holiday hunger and isolation and offered children and their families a free hot meal or a packed lunch.
Mr Ross said: “We’re in a completely different situation now.
“I don’t think we can provide Cafe Inc as we provided it.
“Last year was the first year of it and there was learning and an opportunity to roll it out further but we’re not in that situation this year.”
Members of the council’s policy and co-ordination committee were told continuing direct payments until August would cost £570,000 more than the cafe-style option, although there was unanimous agreement that some form of provision must continue.
Mr Ross added: “I think a combination of direct payments and food provision for families by both the voluntary sector and the council are options.”
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