Thousands of meals for West Dunbartonshire’s young people to banish holiday hunger

Cllr Karen Conaghan and Ian Dickson

By Moira Rodger

More pupils are to receive free school meals during the summer holidays thanks to an initiative by West Dunbartonshire Council.

Hundreds of young people across the area will benefit from free sessions which will include fun activities and lunch following a £100,000 annual investment to reduce holiday hunger.

The funding, agreed as part of the Council’s budget in March this year, will support community groups which currently provide meals to children outwith term time and allow them to increase provision.

Groups set to benefit include Y Sort-it, Food for Thought, Centre 81, Rise and Shine, Haldane Youth Services and local churches.

In addition free holiday sessions provided by the Council at schools across the area will be also extended

The activities will begin in July and run at different locations in West Dunbartonshire through until August.

Councillor Ian Dickson, Convener of Corporate Services said: “We know school holidays can be a stressful time for families who are struggling. This £100,000 investment will provide a helping hand to parents and carers with meals and activities provided completely free of charge regardless of circumstances or the number of children participating. It will help ease the burden that the holidays can bring for families who receive free meals during term time and other parents and carers who have financial difficulties. By opening the sessions to all pupils, and incorporating activity sessions, it removes any stigma which could be associated with the provision.”

Councillor Karen Conaghan, Convener of Educational Services, added: “Every parent knows the challenge school holidays present. For many families in West Dunbartonshire they are not only contending with how to keep children amused but have the added stress of how to pay for lunch each day. We are committed to removing inequality in our area and eradicating child poverty is a key element of that. I’m confident that this fund will make a significant difference to our young people and their families.”

A recent analysis by West Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership found that 33% of children in the area were living in poverty, with 27% in receipt of free school meals during term time.

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