Green MSP Ross Greer has applauded Renfrewshire Council for their efforts to ensure that children who are eligible for free school meals continue to receive a meal during school closures. Greer, the Scottish Greens’ education spokesperson, had previously published outline proposals on how councils could operate a home delivery system for families in receipt of free school meals, rather than simply make an equivalent cash payment to those families. Designed to support families for whom money is not the only barrier to feeding their children, the Deputy First Minister John Swinney encouraged councils to consider what Greer had proposed during a statement in Parliament.
Following the Deputy First Minister’s call, Greer wrote to all 32 councils with the Greens’ outline proposals, asking for confirmation of the arrangements they have put in place. Renfrewshire Chief Executive Sandra Black responded this week to outline a three-strand approach in which the default position is a bank payment of £11.25 per child per week, but children of key workers still attending hub schools will be provided with free meals and families identified as vulnerable will be provided with support packages, including food, hygiene and sanitary products.
Ross Greer, Scottish Greens MSP for the West of Scotland commented:
“Different councils are taking different approaches but this is one of the most comprehensive plans I’ve seen and Renfrewshire should be congratulated for putting it together so quickly. This will go a long way to making sure that the most vulnerable children in our communities are fed and supported during the pandemic.
“I hope councils across Scotland who had originally adopted ‘collection hub’ models, which they’ve had to revise in light of the lockdown measures, will look to Renfrewshire for an example of exactly the kind of flexible approach which gives families the support which is right for them.”
“Renfrewshire Council has taken a three-strand approach to ensure the continued delivery of this service: -
• A direct bank payment is the default position being taken and is being issued to all families whose children are eligible for free school meals - £11.25 per child per week.
• Free meals are being provided to all children who attend the hub schools identified for children of key workers.
• Support packages are being provided to families identified as being vulnerable – these comprise of:
- Breakfast cereal, milk, sandwich ingredients, dried soup mixes, tea, coffee, biscuits.
- Twice weekly deliveries of freshly prepared evening meals for all family members
- Basic hygiene products such as shampoo, shower gel, toothpaste and dishwashing detergent
- Sanitary products
We are working with the Council’s Tackling Poverty and Welfare Reform team to ensure these resources are delivered to families who, through various circumstances, are unable to access supplies to feed their children.”