School holiday hunger programme to be cut due to funding shortage

Labour councillor Jill Pidgeon said the move was 'really disappointing and worrying'.

Glasgow school holiday hunger programme to be cut during February break due to funding shortage Getty Images

School children in Glasgow will no longer receive free food during the February holiday after the council dropped the break from its annual hunger scheme. 

Glasgow City Council distributes cash for the holiday food programme, which sees kids receive hot meals, snacks and activities when they are not in the classroom.

Dozens of community organisations in the city deliver the scheme, which has covered holidays in the spring and summer, as well as October and February in previous years before the latest cut.

A council paper said the three-day February holiday period had to be removed due to the “funds available”.

Describing it as “really disappointing and worrying”, Labour councillor Jill Pidgeon, said: “That means for those three days children who would usually access hot food and support won’t have that.”

Pointing out that a difficult winter is expected with the cost of living crisis, councillor Pidgeon added: “By the time we get to February things will be pretty grim.”

The Shettleston politician raised the issue about the February cut at a recent council meeting.

She said: “It is sad that we must have these provisions but they are there because there is a need. We should be looking at ways to protect them even if it is more basic.

“We have a duty of care. The kids who access these services are the most vulnerable we have in the city.”

The holiday food programme ran for four days in October and is due to operate for eight days in spring next year.

A council spokeswoman said: “The council has been working with more and more voluntary organisations across the city since the launch of the holiday food and activity programme in 2018 and delivered almost two million meals and snacks to children and young people.

“The last committee report – delayed due to the death of the Queen – outlined the funds available for the rest of the school year and agreed under delegated authority so that organisations could plan the October holiday programme.

“A decision was taken to alter the programme for the two day February mid-term next year in order to increase engagement and coverage across every city ward and complement what the voluntary sector are already delivering in their area.”

Families who are eligible for free school meals also receive £2.50 per child per day during school holidays to support them when schools are closed.

A council paper presented at the city administration committee on September 29 said: “Due to funds available, it is proposed that the three-day February holiday period is removed from the programme. 

“It is proposed to fund 52 organisations to deliver a bigger programme with a wider spread across the city than in previous years. To achieve this within available budget, support for a maximum programme of four days in October 2022 and eight days in spring 2023 (includes two public holidays) is recommended.”

The paper was due to be considered by councillors at a meeting on September 15, which was cancelled due to the Queen’s death. 

The paper’s recommendations ended up being approved by the council chief executive as the next meeting would have been too late to give organisations enough time to get ready for October’s holiday food programme. 

Last year the council distributed about £2.09m for the holiday food programme and it is understood funding levels have remained at similar levels for this financial year.

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