New scheme to tackle ‘holiday hunger’ at Fife schools

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The convener of Fife’s community and housing committee has branded school holiday hunger “a damned disgrace”.

Councillor Judy Hamilton hit out after Fife Council agreed to launch a new scheme to provide meals during school holidays to stop children going hungry.

While she supported the anti-poverty measures, she blasted the fact that it was needed in the first place.

At the committee on Thursday, Cllr Hamilton said: “It is a damned disgrace that we are in a situation where we need to provide free food during school holidays.

Every school holiday has become a burden on families. This is an excellent provision and I am so proud that we are able to do it and do right by our children.”

Fife Council ran a successful pilot of the scheme in Cowdenbeath and Lochgelly during the Easter holidays, which saw more than 7000 meals provided to children and parents during a two week period.

Councillor Linda Esrskine, convener of the Cowdenbeath area committee, said: “The pilot that was run in a large part of my ward was very successful. On the first day, 48 meals were served. By the end, we were serving 270 a day.”

However, she added that there was more value than just food being served. Cllr Erskine said: “What I saw wasn’t just kids, parents were coming together and there was a real buzz about the inclusiveness.

“Parents who didn’t know each other, who were maybe sitting alone, by the end of the first week they were all talking and hanging out in groups. It was wider than just holiday hunger provision.

“It was a really good project that was very well done and we have to congratulate all the staff who went the extra mile to make sure it was a success.”

However, some concerns were raised over the sustainability of the project.

Councillor Ken Caldwell said: “My concern is sustainability. It cost £23,000 for one area for two weeks. This will be seven areas over seven weeks for summer, then a futher six weeks for the rest of the school year. The figures don’t seem to add up.”

Gary Daniels, community resources team leader, said: “We have taken into account the size and I have worked with facilities and education and £400,000 is the budget I’m working to.

“The more meals we deliver, the cheaper it actually becomes. I’m confident we can deliver it to cost.”

The scheme will be run across all seven areas of Fife, from a mixture of schools and community centres, with th final locations to be confirmed on Monday.

An independent evaluation of the scheme will also be carried out once it has concluded.