Nursery leaders say they’re relying on supermarket leftovers to provide food for hungry families struggling from poverty.
The Broomloan Nursery in Govan, Glasgow, is fighting child poverty on the front-lines by supplying kids and their parents meals made up of handouts from Tesco and Greggs.
Families in the area with children as young as three are unable to afford food.
And while Brexit continues to dominate the national headlines the crisis is flying under the radar of politicians, according to the Daily Record .
Dismayed at what is unfolding before her eyes, leader of the nursery, Maggie Frater, has decided to matters into her own hands.
“I watched a mum at the Christmas party taking armfuls of sandwiches,” Maggie said.
“At first we thought she was being greedy, but I spoke with her and realised she was simply desperately hungry.
She hadn’t eaten properly for a few days and she was trying to fill up.
“She was squirrelling some of the sandwiches away for her kids because she didn’t have enough to feed them.”
In nursery head Shona Pourvatan’s office, two pictures drawn by a child at the school help to encapsulate the crisis.
In one, a woman can be seen crying with little else around her; in the other a woman is smiling surrounded by shopping bags.
The artist behind the powerful drawings was an African girl who is said to have no food at home.
“She was from Eritrea and English wasn’t her first language,” explained Shona. “Her mum was crying in the picture because there was nothing to eat. You can see she’s drawn a tear-stained face.
“But we had some vouchers we were able to offer and the following day, she did another drawing with a smiling face.”
Poverty campaigners have praised the work of Broomloan but have condemned the system which requires places like the nursery to step up and fill the void created by ignorant politicians.
By their own admission, Shona, Maggie and the rest of their team have established a series of services helping to tackle poverty in the area head-on.
Maggie coordinates a team to take food destined for the dump and transport it to the nursery instead.
She also writes letters to business to source toys, clothes, toiletries and baby food for families in need.
Broomloan’s incredible efforts – which include a laundry service, home visits and care parcels – are in response to the problems affecting families in the area.
In addition, Maggie has crafted links with Tesco, Greggs and other businesses to set up a network of regular donations.
“I make sure nothing gets wasted,” she said.
“The table foes from full to empty quite quickly and that’s great. We have sandwiches, sausage rolls, stir-fry veg, tins of soup and baby food.
“We put out sanitary products, toothpaste and deodorant too. I don’t want anyone to be embarrassed or ashamed.
“We know what they need and I can help get it.”
Twice a week staff at the nursery travel to collect end-of-day stock that would otherwise be thrown away.
Shoana said: “Poverty is a huge issue. We have parents who tell us they are not eating or haven’t eaten for days because they don’t have enough to feed their kids and themselves.
“We have introduced home visits for every child who gets registered here. It’s not about snooping on them. It means we can see parents and children in their home environment and the kids will see us as someone they trust.”
The nursery have also started delivering care parcels to families outside of term time, to make sure they have all the necessary provisions year-round.
Neil Cowan, of the Poverty Alliance, said: “In a society that believes in justice and compassion, it’s simply unjust that nurseries and schools are having to step in to respond to distressing levels of poverty in their communities.
“We need to redesign our economy so that it works for everyone. Both the UK and Scottish Governments share a moral responsibility to ensure the social security system enables people to live a dignified life.”
A recent survey found that 260,000 of Scotland’s children are living in poverty, compared to 220,000 four years ago.
The Scottish Government want to reduce that figure to 10 per cent by 2030.
Jim McCormick, of social policy research and development charity The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “People have a strong sense that it’s not right for families to be stuck in poverty, and this is an example of the work people are doing every day to act on their compassion.
“While forms of support like these and food banks are vital in the here and now, it is essential that we tackle the root causes of poverty.”
Labour’s poverty and inequality spokeswoman Elaine Smith said the Broomloan schemes were “inspiring”.
She added: “It shows how badly some families are struggling that the nursery has to take these sorts of steps, and why we need to see change across the country.