North Lanarkshire to consider 365-day school meals

Written by Tom Freeman on 16 February 2018 in News

Scheme to tackle 'holiday hunger' expected to be rolled out across North Lanarkshire

School meals - Cheshire council

North Lanarkshire council is considering introducing school meals during all holidays in an attempt to prevent hunger in pupils from low-income families.

Research shows some children from struggling families suffer from malnutrition in the school holidays, and several charity initiatives in individual schools have been set up to tackle the issue.

North Lanarkshire currently offers a limited scheme which was visited by UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn this week.

However, if accepted the local authority would be the first in Scotland to introduce it on a council-wide basis.

Nearly 21 per cent of children in the local authority area are in low-income families.

The council’s education convener Frank McNally said: “North Lanarkshire has one of the highest concentrations of deprivation in the country and this is only going to be exacerbated by further welfare reforms.”

If approved by the council on February 20, the ‘Food 365’ programme would move to a pilot in the Spring holidays in April.

The idea has been the subject of a member’s bill at Westminster from Labour MP Frank Field which would have required councils in England to provide the scheme, but UK education minister Nadhim Zahawi rejected the proposal.

Speaking to Holyrood magazine, national chef Gary Maclean said such initiatives are also a good opportunity to give parents cooking skills, as shown through the ‘Meals and More’ charity initiative.

“The kids go play and they bring in volunteer chefs to teach the parents how to cook their kids lunch,” he said.

“They are learning skills, the kids are getting a nutritious meal and having fun and the parents are buying into it. It’s not like a handout. The parents have cooked the lunch. They’re learning skills and the kids are getting fed.”

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