Fife Council is planning to offer financial help to those families that struggle with the unexpected extra food costs when pupils have to self-isolate due to Covid-19. Payments are already made during school holidays to families on benefits who meet the deprivation criteria.
Thousands of school pupils in Tayside and Fife have had to stay at home to isolate after being identified as a close contact of someone with coronavirus and in Fife, one in five schoolchildren is registered for free school meals, and during lockdown and the recent school holidays their parents were given £11.50 a week per child.
Earlier this week, Fife Council’s Communities and Housing Services sub-committee agreed to fund meals for isolating children as it approved holiday payments for the forthcoming Christmas and Easter breaks.
Convenor, Councillor Judy Hamilton, said those eligible for free school meals are the most deprived families. Having to pay for extra meals when children are suddenly asked to isolate is, she said, “an extra strain that perhaps people weren’t expecting”.
A report by Lauren Bennett, communities and neighbourhoods service policy officer, said: “In the event of a local outbreak of coronavirus, a school or several schools may close temporarily to help control transmission.
“There are also circumstances where schools don’t have to close, but where classes must isolate because of coronavirus and therefore miss out on provision of a free school meal.”
Local authorities have been given £6.95 million by the Scottish Government to provide free school meals and tackle food insecurity through the winter breaks, and an additional £3.05M is expected for the Easter holidays.