Schools open in the holidays to feed hungry families

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​New charity initiative aims to curb food poverty in deprived communities.

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22nd April 2016 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Primary schools in Glasgow are to open during the holidays in a bid to beat food poverty in deprived communities.

They will open up during the summer break to offer free meals to families in need.

Two schools, in Dalmarnock and Ibrox, will also offer advice and activities to those who sometimes struggle with the costs associated with school holidays.

It is part of Children in Scotland’s Food, Families & Futures project, which works with communities to ensure families that find themselves in need can access food and support.

The charity is currently looking at setting up similar projects in Irvine, Ayrshire, and in Perthshire.

No child in Scotland should be setting off for school with a rumbling tummy or wondering if they will have dinner

Throughout July Dalmarnock Primary will welcome up to 80 parents and children and daily, offering lunch, trips out, structured activity and free play.

The programme will build on the school’s successful Family Meal and Homework Club, which was established last autumn.

At Ibrox Primary four weeks of activities focused on food preparation, eating and nutrition will run from 8 July, overseen by Glasgow Life.

In Glasgow 38.8% of primary school pupils, and 29.8% of secondary pupils, are in receipt of free school meals. Ibrox and Dalmarnock have two of the highest rates of entitlement in Scotland.

Dalmarnock Primary headteacher Nancy Clunie said: “We are conscious that some of our families might need a little bit of extra help over holiday periods – especially families who throughout the school term benefit from free school meals.

“However, this project is much more than the offer of a free meal and is a chance for the children and their families to get together over the holidays, make friends and learn new things.”

Ibrox Primary headteacher Fiona Young said: “Throughout the year we all work hard as a school community to help promote the importance of a healthy diet as part of a healthy lifestyle and we are delighted to be part of this project.”

Children in Scotland chief executive Jackie Brock said: “The food programmes at Ibrox and Dalmarnock are a great example of communities taking action to forge partnerships that are appropriate to local needs. More so than ever, it means that these schools will be at the heart of their communities and at the heart of supporting families.

“We know that free school meals are vital for many families, but when this provision ends and holidays start it can mean crisis. These projects will help to ensure families can access food and wellbeing activities at a time that would have been associated with great insecurity and stress.”

“Through Food, Families & Futures, Children in Scotland is putting policy around food poverty into practice, and we look forward to making further announcements about the work in the summer and autumn.”

Children in Scotland is leading Food, Families & Futures as charity partner of Business in the Community Scotland (BITC Scotland), alongside UK food supply company Brakes.

Mark Bevan, BITC Scotland’s operations director, said: “In 2016 no child in Scotland should be setting off for school with a rumbling tummy, nor should they be spending their school holidays wondering if, not what, they will have for dinner. But this is the sad reality for hundreds of thousands of children across Scotland, and their numbers are ever increasing.

“Going to school hungry and struggling through the long school holidays not only impacts these children’s happiness and wellbeing, it also severely limits their mental and physical development with long-lasting and wide-ranging consequences. Because of hunger, these children struggle to focus in school and to develop vital skills alongside their more affluent classmates, meaning that as they grow up they face extra challenges to achieving their full potential.

“Child food poverty is preventing hundreds of thousands of children from gaining the necessary skills to be employable in the future and business knows that this is something they cannot afford.”

John McLintock, Brakes Scotland’s operations director, said: “Our role will be to ensure good quality meals are available in Dalmarnock and Ibrox primaries and that our practical input, contributes to tackling child poverty.”