Children eligible for free school meals will be among those who continue to be supported over the summer through a package of £27.6 million of additional funding from the SNP Government.
The funding will ensure councils can continue to provide free school meals during the summer holidays and food to help low income families during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The latest data from local authorities shows that around 175,000 children and young people are currently receiving free school meals, vouchers or cash payments to buy meals.
The number of children receiving free school food has risen by 53,000 since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic due to the impact of the pandemic on family incomes and financial circumstances.
This funding is in addition to the overall package of £30 million allocated to councils in March to provide free school meals and offer food provision to key groups during lockdown.
Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills John Swinney MSP said:
“This significant additional funding will allow councils to plan for the summer and continue the existing provision, whether through offering nutritious free meals for children or through more direct means allowing families to get food for their families. Councils will have the flexibility to ensure they are able to use this additional funding to put in place provision that meets local needs and circumstances.
“£15 million of this funding is being made available to ensure we continue supporting the range of households who have been or may experience difficulty in accessing or affording food during the pandemic. People are under pressure just now as they cope with the impact of COVID-19 and this funding shows we are doing all we can to help them at this difficult time. This funding is additional to the £350 million we have already made available across communities.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“The SNP Government wants to ensure families are given the same support through the summer holidays as during term time, in recognition of the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. That is why free school meals provision is essential to support families, children and young people who need some extra help at this difficult time.
“But the funding is not just for pupils. If you are having a hard time, please use freephone 0800 111 4000, or textphone 0800 111 4114 from Monday to Friday, between 9am and 5pm.
“You will be directed to someone at North Ayrshire Council, who can help you get the day-to-day food you need, medication, access to local social work services, emotional support or contact with local volunteer groups.”