Strong start for free lunch scheme in Kirkcaldy

Cafe Inc. volunteers at Kirkcaldy West Primary. From left, Gail Howard, Mark Anderson and Denise Smith.
Cafe Inc. volunteers at Kirkcaldy West Primary. From left, Gail Howard, Mark Anderson and Denise Smith.

Fife Council’s Cafe Inc is set to be a roaring success with it being well received by members of the community.

Cafe Inc is a lunch scheme which provides children and families with a hot meal or packed lunch over the summer holidays.

Cafe inc dinner ladies.

Cafe inc dinner ladies.

The free drop in service that was piloted earlier this year served over 7150 lunches during the Easter holidays.

Several primary schools across Kirkcaldy are taking part in the Cafe Inc scheme, St Marie’s RC, Valley, Fair Isle, Kirkcaldy North, Kirkcaldy West and Hayfield Community Centre.

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Aileen Morris a community education worker with Fife Council who was at Kirkcaldy West Primary said: “This is the first time that we have used schools to deliver Cafe Inc.

“There was a pilot of Cafe Inc in the Cowdenbeath area in the Easter holidays, we were looking at where the best place to hold the summer cafes was and found that schools are the most effective place, as they can mass cater and reach more people than community kitchens can.

“We want to encourage everyone in the community to come along to get a meal, it is not just for kids that get free school meals, it is a universal service that we want all families to use.

Aileen also highlighted the welfare benefits of Cafe Inc, she said: “There are community workers that attend the cafes, so there is access to support if families need it, if there is continuous support over the holidays it will lessen the impact when the kids go back to school, any problems that have been building up over the summer can now be addressed in the holidays.”

Volunteers from the Linktown tenants and Residents Association have organised a walking bus from the Saunders Street Park that escorts children to the nearby Kirkcaldy West Primary School to go to Cafe Inc.

Marie Erke, chairman of the Linktown Tenants and Residents Association said: “When Cafe Inc started, I decided to set up the walking bus.

“I put a post on Facebook about the bus and the response was brilliant, I go to the park everyday at about 11.25am and wait for the kids, I’m going to do the walking bus for the full seven weeks.”

Marie’s colleague, Lizzy Halstead, community activist with the Linktown group, who also volunteers for the walking bus said: “Universal Credit has had a big impact on the community, in this day and age it is quite sad that we have to provide lunches for people that are struggling.

“I used to get free meals 40 years ago, and we’re still doing it, but it’s worse now than when I was a kid.”

Marie added: “It’s affecting the kids, how can you tell a kid they can’t have anything, people are having to wait a month to get money, some people can’t manage their money for two days let alone a month.

“All that matters to us is that the kids are getting fed, but Cafe Inc is helping the community and bringing everyone together, we can’t thank Fife Council enough.”

At Kirkcaldy West Primary School’s Cafe Inc, there are also toys and activities for the kids in the busy dinner hall.

Emma Fyfe who is a family participation worker in neighbourhood development areas for Fife Council also attends various Cafe Inc’s throughout the Kirkcaldy area to run family fun sessions, Emma said: “I engage with families and set up the fun sessions in each neighbourhood development area, to bring families together to play, learn and have fun, it’s a fun job and it is very rewarding,

“Cafe Inc is a fantastic idea, there is no stigma attached to Cafe Inc as it is for the whole community and in a sense it has brought the community together.

“Families are getting hot lunches, the kids play together and parents get to catch up with each other, it also stops people from being isolated in the community.

“The longer the scheme keeps going the more successful it will be as more people will hear about it and come along.”

Suzanne Wilson who lives in Alison Street said: “I come here everyday with my kids and granddaughter, it gets us out of the house,if we didn’t come to Cafe Inc we probably wouldn’t leave the house.

“It’s not just good because we get lunch, we get to socialise with other families and my kids love to play with all the other children.

“After we have had our lunch everyone goes to the park, the kids go and play and the parents have a chat, you can really feel the community spirit.

“It’s great, Cafe Inc is for everyone, my stepfather is in a care home so my mum comes here as well, it has really brought us all together.”

Sarah Rutherford who lives in the Links said: “I love where I stay, I work in the Links, I live in the Links, it’s a great community.

“I come to Cafe Inc because my kids love it, when the school holidays started my daughter would not have seen her friends until they went back to school, but when we come here she can see them everyday.

“My son is two and will be starting nursery soon, it’s good that he is coming here to the school for lunches in the summer, when he starts nursery he will be used to coming here.

“We are really lucky here, everyone supports everyone else, we all share and care.”