North Ayrshire Council is spending the joint highest amount of money per child on free school meals across the country.

With schools remaining closed until mid-February, the council are giving those children eligible a £4 food voucher per day which equates to £40 per fortnight.

That is the joint highest amount across Scotland with East Dunbartonshire Council and Western Isles Council also committing to spend the same.

It comes as concerns were raised across the UK about the quality of food parcels being delivered to children’s homes and fears that those children most in need would go hungry due to the closure of schools.

Last week, East Renfrewshire Council admitted the quality of some of its food packs provided had ‘fallen short’ of its standards.

East Ayrshire Council is the only other local authority to be sending out food parcels rather than cash or vouchers.

However, in North Ayrshire vouchers for £40 per child have already been sent out to those eligible covering the two week period from January 18 – February 1 2021.

North Ayrshire Council leader Cllr. Joe Cullinane said: “North Ayrshire Council has been tackling the issue of holiday hunger for much longer than we have been dealing with the pandemic.

“That’s why we were so quick to offer support with food when we went into lockdown last March.

"We did not need anyone to tell us that schools being closed would cause real problems for families in receipt of free school meals, we already knew it would and were already leading the way in responding to the problem through our Wrap, Run and Fun holiday meal programme.

“Similarly, we don’t see any government funding for food as the ceiling for what we should spend feeding children.

"I would never accept an approach whereby the council spent as little as possible in order to fit within an inadequate funding pot.

"Our approach is driven by the needs of the children to ensure they can enjoy a nutritious diet whilst the schools are closed hence why we are spending the highest amount per child in the country.

“I am proud of our record on increasing access to food across our communities, particularly throughout this pandemic, but I am all too aware that the problem will still exist after the pandemic.

"That’s why I am delighted with the new food initiatives such as the larder at the Whitlees. These initiatives, with the council working with community groups, will make a huge difference for local people.”