A student from Queen Margaret University (QMU) has dedicated his holidays to providing healthy nutritious meals to primary school children in East Lothian over the summer break.
Iain Scott, worked with local family worker and QMU graduate Natalie Moir to provide a holiday lunch club which operated at Prestonpans Infant School during the July and August holidays.
The club was established to ensure that young children had access to balanced nutritional meals, and were also provided with extra learning enrichment opportunities over the summer months.
Mr Scott, a father of four young children, is studying for a BSc (Hons) Dietetics at QMU and said he became increasingly aware of the issues surrounding some families and food poverty during his earlier role with the NHS when he promoted healthy eating within schools.
He said: “Financial poverty can be like the tide, flowing in and out of people lives, at times causing severe damage to all it touches. One of the biggest casualties of financial poverty includes the ability of families to provide nutritious healthy meals for themselves and their children.”
He continued: “The Barnardos report identified that the financial pressures faced by parents were at their most extreme in the school holidays. This was due to the fact that families had to find extra money to pay for food during the school holidays because of the absence of free school meals. This markedly increases food poverty during the school holiday period and results in intense financial pressure. Ultimately, there is a higher risk of malnutrition which has an impact on a child’s attainment in school. The report confirmed that there was a need for a project which supported families dealing with these issues.”
The club, which was supported by the Preston Seton Gosford Area Partnership, has also provided children with additional learning and social opportunities.
Staff also felt that the holiday clubs helped break down perceived barriers to parents engaging with school and community interventions.
Mr Scott said: “We know that ‘The Wee Pans Lunch Club’ initiative has been a life saver for some of Prestonpans young families. The children really enjoyed coming together and having proper meals in a fun social environment. They also liked getting involved in food preparation and trying new things. It’s been a great success and the parents are pleased that the children were gaining both nutritionally and socially, and also had structure to their days during the holiday period.”
“Of course, these initiatives are only successful if they are well supported and we are indebted to our hugely dedicated band of hard-working volunteers who supported the project by providing the meal provision and interacting with the children.”