TWO parents who have been struggling to make ends meet have welcomed a scheme that will see all school pupils in Glasgow benefit from a mid-morning snack.

The mothers, who both reside in Pollok, admitted they had been keeping their children off school due to the fact they could not afford to provide them with a play piece. 

Both revealed how they had felt “embarrassed” about their little ones being spotted without food at break times and feared they would be bullied by others. 

One mum, who wished not to be named, said: “When I was in school, I was picked on because my parents couldn’t give me a snack at playtime. I don’t want my children going down that road.

“Even with them at home, I still can’t feed them all the time. I rely on my mum quite a lot for help with dinners but even she struggles, too. I’m a single parent with two children to look after and I rely on foodbanks to get through most of the time.

“I know that there are free school meals but there needs to be another provision for break times. I know I’m not the only one who feels embarrassed about not being able to provide my children with a snack.”

She added: “When the kids are off school, they sit in their rooms and play their games or come and sit with me. Of course, I worry that they are missing out on their education.” 

Glasgow Times:

Despite accessing the free school meals provision, the other mother - who also wished to remain anonymous - told how it worked out cheaper for her to keep her daughter at home rather than sending her to school every day with a pre-bought snack. 

She said: “My little girl falls within the threshold for free school meals and she receives them. Despite this, I still find myself struggling and rely on my mum a lot for help with meals and snacks.

“If I keep her at home, I can give her toast or cereal, which works out cheaper than a daily snack. 

“Truthfully, it embarrasses me sending her to school when I know she won’t have a play piece but other pupils do. I don’t want her to be stared at by the other kids and I don’t want her to be made fun of – she would hate it.

“She will tell me that there are other kids there who don’t have snacks yet they can go to school and then she’ll ask why she can’t. 

“It’s as though she is being punished because she doesn’t have the play piece. She has a heart of gold, too. When she does have a piece, she will share it with those who don’t. But then that only means that she is missing out.”

Anxiety has led the mum-of-two to lie about the reason behind her daughter’s absences in the fear of what would happen if she told teachers the truth. 

She added: “I would make up excuses to the school myself in the fear of what would happen if I told them the truth. 

“I give my daughter everything I have got. I think that if I was honest about why I keep her off school, it would seem as though I am neglecting her. I just struggle to put food on the table but I try to make sure she doesn’t go without.

“Poverty goes from being something you hear about to it then walking right through your front door and landing on you – it gives you a reality check.”

On Friday, we exclusively revealed the council’s plans to roll out free food at break times in a bid to boost health among young people and help families to cut down on household bills. 

Running from October to March 2022, the scheme will give fruit to all primary children and a hot snack to secondary pupils who are eligible for free school meals. 

Glasgow Times: Gowanbank Hub volunteers pictured with play time snacksGowanbank Hub volunteers pictured with play time snacks

The move comes after harrowing figures from The Gowbank Hub showed hundreds of school absences in the South of Glasgow were being counted for due to food insecurity. 

The crisis support centre ran a survey among 760 parents, of which 190 told how they were keeping their children off school due to “play piece poverty” with an average of four days of education lost every month per child. 

Billy Coull, who is the organisation’s director, said: “The findings from our survey revealed the crippling impact poverty is having on children in the South of Glasgow. 

“We warmly welcome the council’s mid-morning snack plan, it is going to be vital to the education of children of hundreds in Glasgow and will hopefully eradicate play piece poverty. 

“It will support academic success and contribute to the nutritional needs of children.”

Meanwhile, the local authority is urging parents to get in touch with schools to see if they are entitled to additional holiday meal payments that come as part of recovery plans in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. 

A Glasgow City Council spokeswoman said: “The announcement last week about the morning snack for primary and eligible secondary pupils is in addition to Covid recovery funding that’s being provided to families most in need.

“This includes additional holiday payments to families who are eligible for free school meals.

“We know that these are challenging times and our schools and school staff do an amazing job supporting their school communities and we would urge families to speak to their schools to see if any additional help can be given.”