Council vows to do more to help children going hungry in school holidays


Education bosses will investigate what can be done to tackle holiday hunger as part of a wider look at child poverty.

The city council’s education, children and families committee agreed a motion by Labour Cllr Scott Arthur, calling on a feasibility study into measures to help children who go hungry out of term time when breakfast clubs are not available.

Earlier this year, a headteacher told councillors that some pupils only receive a good meal when they are at school.

The Discover project, which offers free meals and other help to the most vulnerable families over the holidays, reportedly reached only 10 per cent of pupils eligible for free school meals and operated just three days a week from four sites.

Tom Britton from the Edinburgh EIS union, told councillors their members have reported “increased incidents of pupils coming to school in the city, hungry”.

He added: “We need something that’s going to be sustained in the long-term”.

 

A report on child poverty, due before councillors in March, will include measures to address holiday hunger.

Cllr Arthur said: “The growth in child poverty in the UK should shame us all, and government at all levels has a duty to reverse that trend.

“I am absolutely delighted therefore that the council has accepted my request to look at providing children with a nutritious meal and activities during holiday periods.

“Edinburgh appears to be behind other councils in this area, and I hope my motion provides an opportunity for it to take the lead.”

Green education spokesperson, Cllr Steve Burgess, added: “It’s damning in a wealthy 21st century city like Edinburgh that holiday hunger should have come to such prominence over the last decade, a sign of just how brutal the welfare attack from the UK government has been.

“The council, voluntary organisations and community groups can and should respond to that harsh reality, by providing access to good quality, nutritious food.

“However, there’s clearly a need to weave holiday food schemes into other services so that the children and young people who need it know about what’s available and can use it.”



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