Food for families in need this summer

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Children and families most in need will not go hungry over the summer months thanks to Falkirk Council’s multi-faceted holiday meal provision.

At a meeting of Falkirk Council’s education executive on Tuesday, members looked at an update on the success of last year’s £25,000 holiday food programme, which provided young people and their families with invaluable support over the long school break.

Plans are underway to continue the provision of Active Schools places in even more locations this summer and continue to work with Falkirk Foodbank to provide 200 food parcels to households over the summer holiday period.

Councillor Alan Nimmo put forward an amendment – which was defeated nine votes to six – to look into the possibility of setting up a pilot programme to provide hot meals in schools to schoolchildren during school holidays.

There are currently an estimated 2046 primary school pupils and 1068 secondary school pupils who qualify for free school meals within the area.

Officers stated there were a number of potential problems with the amendment – including how to fund it, recruitment of catering and cleaning staff and providing access to schools during the holiday period.

Education convener Dennis Goldie said: “This amendment is not asking for us to spend money, it’s asking for a report to be brought back to see if the situation can be improved.”

Councillor Laura Murtagh said the provision of hot school meals was “unrealistic” and agreeing to look at a pilot scheme would be committing the council to something that would be very difficult to deliver.

Councillor David Alexander asked Councillor Nimmo to get the information on the cost involved in such a pilot programme and other factors first and then come back with a proposal at that stage.

Referring to the council’s existing holiday food programme, he added: “If something’s not broken we don’t need to fix it.”

Councillor John Patrick also did not welcome the amendment, stating: “The amendment is a step further than I think appropriate.”

Education spokesperson Adanna McCue said she had “grave concerns” about the amendment, stating it would be a step backwards, especially when the council was actually getting holiday meal provision right.

Council leader Cecil Meiklejohn said: “We’ve got the balance absolutely right in this case. Activities are a great leveller and give our children more confidence. We have got to be careful we are not highlighting children in deprivation so we give them the benefit of anonymity.”