Charities key to wiping out holiday hunger

Hungry child crop

A pioneering third sector programme will be extended to cover an entire city

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7th September 2017 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Charities and housing associations will be key to a programme to end holiday hunger in Scotland’s largest city.

Glasgow City Council is looking at expanding on work pioneered by the third sector, where schools are opened during breaks to provide meals and support for struggling families.

The local authority has announced a major study which will look at the success of the Children In Scotland-led Food Families Futures (FFF) scheme, which has run pilot projects in deprived areas over the past two summers.

Ultimately the plan is to expand the FFF ethos to cover the whole city, with the council looking at how it can work with charities, schools and others to provide universal free meals in every community across Glasgow during the main school holidays.

Children in Scotland (CiS) chief executive Jackie Brock said the city council’s move was a “significant step forward” in helping to eradicate child poverty.

She said: “We are delighted that our own work in this area will help to inform further moves to address food poverty in Glasgow.

“We launched our FFF programme after schools told us that many families in their communities were facing difficulties during the holiday periods when free school meal entitlement ends.”

CiS worked with food distribution company Brakes through its Meals & More programme to launched in two Glasgow schools during the 2016 summer holidays and this year it expanded into other areas.

During this time almost 4,000 places were taken up by children, parents and carers.

Brock said: “Families reported to us their enjoyment of learning more about making food, taking part in activities, and simply being together.

“This success has been down to a highly localised approach, where families lead the experience, and partner organisations operate from a deep understanding of each community’s differing characteristics and needs.

“We look forward to sharing our evaluation and learning from the FFF clubs with Glasgow as part of their scoping exercise and hope to continue working together in the future.”

It is estimated that more than 2,000 families in Glasgow relied on foodbanks during the summer holidays this year, and the city council’s cabinet said eradicating food poverty is now a priority.

It has decided in a two-pronged approach involving introducing universal free meals in every community in the city during all main school holidays, not just summer, and then expanding free school meals during term time to all pupils, not just those in P1 to P3.

Allan Gow, SNP councillor for the Canal ward, said: "We have been staggered by the levels of child poverty in the city but this is something where we can make an impact.

"This is Scotland's greatest city and yet we have young people in Glasgow who are hungry through a lack of food. That must stop, it just has to stop."

Councillor Gow said the authority aims to learn from the work of charities already working across the city.

A report with plans for the holiday hunger programme will be prepared by the new year and a costing exercise will be carried out in January.

It is hoped that the scheme will be rolled out for the start of next year’s summer holidays.