Welcome for free school meals for primary pupils

Children in Primary 1 to 3 returning to school after new year are entitled to a free lunch.
Children in Primary 1 to 3 returning to school after new year are entitled to a free lunch.

Local politicians have welcomed the introduction this month of free school meals for school children up to Primary 3.

The move – which is being provided with £70.5m in revenue funding and £24.8m in additional capital funding by the Scottish Government – will provide P1-P3 children with guaranteed access to a healthy, nutritious meal.

Commenting on the scheme, local SNP MSP Nigel Don, said it would help families to make substantial savings.

He said: “This will enable families not already receiving this benefit to make a saving of around £330 per year per child.

“Providing children with access to healthy meals also has the potential to positively shape their eating habits for the rest of their lives.”

The policy, which extends to 135,000 children, has been supported by unions and poverty campaigners including Child Poverty Action Group Scotland, One Parent Families Scotland, trade unions and Children in Scotland although Scottish Labour said the change would only benefit the country’s wealthier families as children from poorer backgrounds already qualify for free school meals.

Forfar Councillor Lynne Devine, who is vice-convener of Angus Council’s Children and Learning Committee, added: “The staff in all our primary schools have been working hard to make sure this provision takes place as seamlessly as possible. We know that a good meal at lunchtime impacts well on children’s ability to learn.”