Ruth Maguire MSP has welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement today that children eligible for free school meals will continue to be supported over the summer.

The Scottish Government have announced additional funding of £27.6 million to ensure councils are able to continue the provision of free school meals during the summer holidays and other food provision to help low income families during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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.

The extra funding will also enable councils to continue to support a range of people who may be facing new or continuing barriers to accessing food including due to reduced income caused if they are asked to self-isolate through contact tracing – until the end of September.

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.

The SNP MSP said: “This announcement will be welcome news to families in North Ayrshire who are struggling with access to food for their children in addition to the overall stress caused by the current pandemic.

“This additional funding from the Scottish Government recognises the challenge that some families may be facing over the summer break and will provide them with the same vital support they’ve received during school term-time.”

Since 24 March councils have provided the Scottish Government with data on the number of children receiving a free school meal through the provision of vouchers, direct payments, home deliveries and provision in educational or early years settings. 

Individuals who are unable to access or afford food and cannot get the help they need from family, friends or neighbours are encouraged to call the national assistance helpline. The free helpline number is 0800 111 4000, or can be contacted via a textphone on 0800 111 4114. The helpline is open Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm.

Callers will be put through to speak to someone at their local council. They’ll be able to advise on what types of help are available. This might include:

  • food, if you’re not able to get the day-to-day food you need
  • medication, if you’re not able to pick up the prescriptions you need
  • access to local social work services
  • emotional support
  • contact with local volunteer groups