By Rosie Oglesby, Feeding Britain National Director
Feeding Britain welcomes the announcement that North Lanarkshire council has voted in favour of the proposal to make free school meals available 365 days a year. The council has committed £500,000 a year to ensure that children who need them have access to good quality meals during the weekends and school holidays, as well as in term time.
This follows similar moves by local authorities in Scotland to provide food and fun for children during the school holidays. North Ayrshire Council has supported holiday food and fun schemes for the last five years, Glasgow City Council recently committed £2 million for holiday provision, and the City of Edinburgh Council pledged £40,000 to a new holiday hunger fund. Aberdeen Council is planning to expand its provision of food and fun activities through the 2018/2019 school holidays. “Against a backdrop of increasing pressure on families, particularly during the school holidays, these announcements represent a very welcome ray of hope. ”
Against a backdrop of increasing pressure on families, particularly during the school holidays, these announcements represent a very welcome ray of hope. Across the border, the Westminster government recently announced it will commit to research and pilots on holiday provision in England and Wales, as a precursor, we hope, to a national programme that would give local authorities the legal duty, and the resources, to feed children in the school holidays.
In the meantime, local authorities in England and Wales are are doing what they can. In our Feeding Britain pilot areas, for example, Leicester City Council, coordinated the delivery of 11,000 meals to children in deprived parts of the city in Summer 2017. Derbyshire County Council funding helped the Feeding Derbyshire coalition serve over 13,000 holiday meals in 2017. Local authorities in Bradford and Barnsley have been working closely with community groups to ensure holiday clubs are available to children who need them most. “ Local authorities in Scotland are increasingly showing that with sufficient, predictable funding, it is possible to prevent the scandal of children going hungry in their school holidays.”
What these and other councils are doing is impressive, but the needs we are seeing far outstrip the current level of support. Local authorities in Scotland are increasingly showing that with sufficient, predictable funding, it is possible to prevent the scandal of children going hungry in their school holidays.
Since the All Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger first highlighted the issue of holiday hunger back in 2014, local authorities in Scotland have been leading the way. We hope that the government’s recent announcement means that children across the UK can soon benefit from the kinds of programmes that are gathering steam in Scotland.