With the school summer holidays now upon us, the fact many kids will be complaining about being bored already is the least of some parents’ worries.
While some families have the luxury of jetting off to sunny climes or the means to occupy their little ones at outdoor centres and soft play facilities for seven weeks, spare a thought for the mums, dads and carers who do not see the holidays as halcyon days in which to make life-long memories but days filled with anxiety and dread.
People living on low incomes or those already in poverty will see the next seven weeks as an even greater struggle, and the costs of entertaining children at home or outside can often be prohibitive. Organised summer camps are great, but they can often be expensive and a luxury too far for some hard-pressed families.
So it’s against that backdrop that Fife Council and its partners simply have to be applauded for trying to ease the summer holiday burden by providing meals for young people who need them most, and more importantly negating the need for parents to shell out on lunches when their youngsters are normally entitled to free meals at school.
Starting today, the Café Inc project will provide hot meals and packed lunches for both youngsters and adult family members at schools and community centres across the Kingdom.
More than 7,150 hot and cold meals were handed out during a pilot scheme in Cowdenbeath over Easter, and the fact the Plan for Fife estimates more than 24,000 adults in Fife may be experiencing food insecurity – the inability of one or more members of a household to consume adequate quality or sufficient quantity of food that is useful for health – means it is a no brainer to roll this thing out throughout the region.
Cynics will question the sustainability of such a scheme and bemoan the ‘handouts’, but in my book it’s a downright disgrace that an initiative to ensure children won’t go hungry this summer in Fife is even needed in 2019.
For me though, special praise also has go to those behind the Café Inc brand and how this project to tackle holiday hunger has been shaped.
The very phrase ‘holiday hunger’ creates a stigma, so the scheme’s advocates have been very careful in moving away from that phrase – as well as taking the focus off the fact meals are being provided.
These will be inclusive sessions for parents and children, and it’s almost as if the lunch aspect is secondary.
It’s certainly not a silver bullet in tackling poverty and all the issues it brings families across Fife, but I reckon it’s a worthwhile way of targeting taxpayers’ cash to where it is needed most.