Council set to confirm voucher system to support holiday hunger scheme
Posted on 26 Jun 2020
PUPILS eligible for free school meals will continue to be supported over the summer holiday.
North Ayrshire Council is expected to confirm that a voucher system will be put in place for those entitled to free school meals.
Elected members are expected to approve these plans at a meeting of Cabinet on Tuesday (30 June)
They are also expected to support other measures for food provision across the community.
The food vouchers will be worth £20 per week - £4 per day – and can be used in a variety of stores including Asda, Tesco, Morrisons and many more. They cannot be used for age-restricted products.
They will be distributed either by email or by post if no email address is registered.
All recipients will receive a letter with details when they receive the last food packages next week (w/c 29 June)
For the past five years, the Council has opened its schools during the holidays and offered free lunches and activities for children of primary school age.
A number of community centres and groups also assisted the ‘Wrap, Run and Fun’ scheme which has received national acclaim for leading the fight against Holiday Hunger.
In the current pandemic, this level of support is not possible, but the Council is confident the voucher scheme will provide a good alternative.
Those people still shielding and who opt-in to the food delivery service will continue to receive their weekly food pack from the Scottish Government.
Hundreds of school meals will be provided each week across eight Childcare Hubs and this will continue over the summer.
The Council has also confirmed it will work with third sector partners and the foodbank to assist those currently in receipt of an emergency community food pack.
Councillor Joe Cullinane, Leader of North Ayrshire Council, said: “We are proud of our holiday school meal initiative. It has gained nationwide respect as it has shown us a leading light in the fight against holiday hunger. No child should suffer, and a warm meal is a basic human right.
“We are obviously not able to carry out our normal ‘Wrap, Run and Fun’ service this summer but hope the voucher scheme – which has proved successful on our islands – will provide young people with nutritious food over the summer.
“Since lockdown in March, Council staff have put in an incredible effort to support our children and vulnerable residents with food packages. But as more and more service reopen, and staff are deployed back to their normal duties, the model is just an sustainable.
“In addition to the free school meal vouchers, we will continue to provide for our most vulnerable residents and will work with third sector organisations and food banks to ensure nobody misses out.
“We recognise that alternative delivery models of food support may also exist and will explore a community wealth building approach which supports local businesses to provide food to vulnerable citizens. Further exploration of alternative delivery models will be carried out during the summer with the findings considered after recess.“
Since schools were closed and lockdown measures were introduced, North Ayrshire Council has delivered over one million meals to families in receipt of Free School Meals as well as vulnerable residents.
A ‘community food’ response, similar to the free school meals service, was quickly established using St Matthew’s and Greenwood Academy as distribution hubs.
The Council created six community hubs in each of its localities. These have been supported by two community-led hubs at Vineburgh and Fullarton.
Their role in the food system has been to manage calls from the public and provide support for the distribution of North Ayrshire Foodbank emergency food parcels, larder packs and signpost to local food provision, such as hot food or online delivery services.
This took a huge amount of resources with 151 staff redeployed and 52 vehicles from other services used.
With lockdown easing and services in other parts of Council returning, this model is no longer sustainable with staff and resources needed to help the wider recovery.
The Council has received around £1.038 million from the Scottish Government to help fund the food packages – and had to access £1.139m of its own resources.