Free school meals summer scheme overwhelmed by demand

Web childen in scotland summer lunch club 5

A youngster enjoys his lunch at the Food, Families, Futures holiday club

Up to 60% more families than it was possible to accommodate registered with two Glasgow schools offering free lunches during the summer holidays

Paul Cardwell's photo

3rd August 2016 by Paul Cardwell 0 Comments

Schools in two of the most deprived areas of Glasgow which stayed open to feed children during the school holidays have been overwhelmed by demand.

Dalmarnock and Ibrox primaries reported up to 60% more families than they had capacity for asked to be part of the free summer holiday clubs.

The clubs were launched to combat food poverty in their communities and provide activities for families struggling with the costs associated with the break.

A total of 80 children registered to attend at Dalmarnock Primary where 50 places were available, and 60 children registered to attend the 40 places available at Ibrox Primary.

For some families, particularly those who receive free school meals, the school holidays can be a struggle

Children in Scotland, the charity behind the Food, Families, Futures (FFF) programme, said the extra families that turned up were placed on a waiting list and accommodated where possible but resources and health and safety reasons meant in the most part the schools had to stick to their agreed numbers.

Jackie Brock, chief executive of the charity, said the demand proved the need for the scheme and urged more schools to stay open during the holidays.

“For some families, particularly those who receive free school meals, the school holidays can be a struggle,” she said.

“It’s not just the inevitable increase in the food bill but the pressures associated with finding appropriate childcare and activities for their children. These are all issues that exacerbate inequality.

“We believe keeping more schools open, free of charge, during the holidays could play a key role in tackling Scotland’s inequality challenge and be at the forefront of measures to reduce the attainment gap.”

The headteachers and community partners, who have worked throughout the summer holidays to run the clubs, said they were inundated by requests.

Ibrox Primary headteacher Fiona Young said: “We were overwhelmed by the popularity of the holiday club.

“It is the first time that we have run something like this and hope that it is something that can be continued and built upon.”

Food, Families, Futures project, which will expand into North Ayrshire later this month with the launch of a breakfast club at Irvine Royal Academy, is a partnership between Children in Scotland, Business in the Community Scotland and food supplier Brakes.

The project at Dalmarnock was a partnership with PEEK, Thriving Places and the North East Health Improvement team of Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership, with additional support from Clyde Gateway.

Activities at Ibrox were overseen by Glasgow Life and Glasgow City Council.

The programme is being evaluated by Professor Greta Defeyter at Northumbria University and PhD student Jackie Woods, with early findings expected towards the end of 2016.

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