UK: Scottish council to provide poor students with free lunches in spring holiday
Low-income school children in Scotland may get free lunches every day of the year. Source: Instagam/@tigawifi

A Scottish local council plans to give low-income children free lunches during the spring holiday, in response to recent research that revealed many parents from poorer households were skipping meals to feed their offspring.

The plan by the North Lanarkshire Council in eastern Glasgow aims to reduce “weekend and holiday hunger” that low-income families reportedly face on non-school days, according to The Independent.

The Food 365 scheme will be available to 16,000 pupils in eastern Glasgow over the coming spring holiday as a pilot. A decision to roll out the full programme will be made Tuesday.

“These proposals to tackle weekend and holiday hunger are the most ambitious in the country,” Frank McNally, a Labour councillor and council education convener said, according to The Independent.

According to the Isolation and Hunger: the impact of the school holidays on struggling families research, almost a third of parents earning under GBP25,000 (US$35,000) skip meals in the holidays so their children could eat.

Additionally, almost two-thirds struggle to afford food at weekends and during school holidays, explains the report.

Food bank usage was at a 20 percent high in Scotland last year, reported The Scotsman, with a third of supplies going to children.

A further 21 percent of children live in low-income households in Lanarkshire, making it one of the poorest areas in Scotland, according to The Guardian.

“Groups like the Trussell Trust [a food bank charity] are struggling to cope with demand from parents and research has suggested that pressure on food banks doubles during the holidays,” said McNally.

He also noted the importance of a good diet for children to be healthy and develop good habits for adult life.

Eighty percent of teachers reported a rise in “holiday hunger” last year, in a survey by the National Union of Teachers, with a third saying pupils were returning to school with signs of malnourishment. Almost three-quarters of teachers said this adversely impacted the children’s education.

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