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 Scottish Government.

The funding will 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. 

The latest data from local authorities shows that around 175,000 children and young people are currently receiving free school meals - or 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.

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.

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.

1.jpgChristina McKelvie MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse said:

“These are challenging times for families and economic uncertainty has added even more pressure on parents already dealing with the stress of this dire COVID-19 crisis.

“It is absolutely crucial that the support in place for families continues through the summer holidays in recognition of the unprecedented situation we all face. Free school meals provision is a vital lifeline for families, children and young people who need some extra help at this difficult time.

“This significant additional funding will help South Lanarkshire Council plan for the summer while continuing the existing provision with confidence. This support will come in different forms, whether that is offering nutritious free meals for children or through more direct means allowing families to get food for their families. The key part about this funding is that Councils will have the flexibility to ensure they are able to use this additional funding to put in place provision that meets unique local needs and circumstances.

“The £15 million of Scottish Government funding on top of the already announced £350 million is being made available to ensure continued support of the range of households who have been or may experience difficulty in accessing or affording food during the pandemic. The SNP will continue to support people who are under pressure while coping with the impact of COVID-19.”