NO pupil in East Ayrshire will be refused a school meal - even if families have run up dinner hall debts with the local authority.

That's the pledge made by council chief executive Eddie Fraser after a report revealed that families across Scotland owe more than £1 million in school meal debt.

That report - released by the children's charity Aberlour this summer - prompted Labour MSP Carol Mochan to write to all the councils across her South Scotland region, raising concern at the prospect of some pupils being denied a meal in school at lunchtime as the cost-of-living crisis bites.

Ms Mochan asked whether it would be viable for each council to write off the outstanding school meals debt in its area.

And while Mr Fraser didn't make that specific commitment, he did say the authority is reviewing its approach to debts owed by families for unpaid meals.

In her letter Ms Mochan said: "The cost of living crisis is having a significant impact on the ability of families across Scotland to pay for the basic necessities, and we know from much of the strike action taking place over the summer that workers are now rightly demanding increased pay to match the increasing cost of living.

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"I fully appreciate the extreme pressures facing councils at the moment as a result of cuts to budgets and I will continue to stand up for a much fairer funding settlement for local government.

"However, I do believe that if it is possible to assist working families struggling due to the cost of living crisis, then we should use whatever means necessary, and I would be grateful if you could advise if such a cancelling of debts would be viable."

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Mr Fraser said in his response: "East Ayrshire Council has a key role in supporting our communities and is currently developing arrangements to support our communities during the cost of living crisis.

"We continue to support the promotion and roll out of free school meals and extended availability of dignified food support in our communities.

"Our school catering service is central to this dignified approach and no child will be refused a meal at lunchtime.

East Ayrshire Council is reviewing its approach towards school meal debts owed by the area's families"No child will be refused a meal at lunchtime."

"I can confirm that we are reviewing our approach to school meal debt.

"The council uses a cashless meal system via online payments, which are administered locally within each school. This means that any school meal debt is carefully managed and that focused support can be provided to families where it is needed.

"This has worked well in previous years, however it is important that we look at all areas of work to ensure that help is provided to those most in need.

"As a council, we are committed to ensuring that our children and young people do not go hungry this winter and will do everything in our power to support our communities through this cost of living crisis."