CHILDREN across North Ayrshire can collect their free holiday school meals from community centres as of today.

The initiative will be available for all children who are entitled to free school meals from July 4 to August 12.

Children from both primary and secondary schools can come along to the 18 venues providing meals from 11.30am to 2.30pm every weekday to receive their free lunch.

Councillor Tony Gurney said: “The scheme has been running for the best part of a decade.

“The free holiday school meals were hugely welcomed by children because they were getting fed and could partake in a series of activities, so they were seeing people as well.

“It was really appreciated by parents, all of whom are trying to do their best for their children but are simply let down by the welfare state which doesn’t give people enough to live on.”

The initiative also includes free activities hosted by community centres that are available for all children whether they are entitled to free school meals or not.

The events do not require any registration as children can simply show up on the day if they wish to attend.

While the programme is intended primarily for children from low-income families, places such as Whitlees Community Centre in Ardrossan have stated they will not turn away any child who comes for lunch.

A representative from the centre said: “We host fun days, and the kids get free packed lunches with that.

“With gas and electricity going up and the cost of living going up I think more kids will be coming to get something to eat because they don’t know when they’re going to get a hot meal.

“At Easter we did between 50 and 75 lunches a day, now we’re up to about a hundred.”

Families who are eligible for free school meals will also receive a weekly voucher to help with grocery shopping equating to £10 per child throughout the summer holidays.

These can be redeemed in community centres and local shops.

Arran Outdoor Education Centre, Fairlie Library, Millport Library, Skelmorlie Library will host occasional activities for children to participate in.

A full list of where children can get their free lunches is provided below:

  • Largs Campus, Largs
  • Bridgend Community Centre, Kilbirnie
  • Dalry Community Centre
  • Beith Astro, Beith
  • Greenwood Academy, Dreghorn
  • Fullarton Community Hub, Irvine
  • Springside Community Centre, Irvine
  • Redburn Community Hub, Irvine
  • Towerlands Community Centre, Irvine
  • Vineburgh Community Centre, Irvine
  • Love Hall, Kilwinning
  • Nethermains Community Centre, Kilwinning
  • West Kilbride Community Centre
  • Argyle Community Centre, Saltcoats
  • Ardeer Community Centre, Stevenson
  • Church of Nazarene, Ardrossan
  • Whitlees Community Centre, Ardrossan
  • Hayocks Community Centre, Stevenston