Free school meals for Scottish kids

Free school meals are to be rolled out for all Scottish children attending the first three years of primary school.

Scottish education secretary Fiona Hyslop announced today pilot schemes involving 35,000 children aged between five and seven years had been a success, increasing overall uptake of meals from 53 per cent to 75 per cent.

“This government has made it a priority to help children in their early years and this initiative does just that, providing every child with a free school meal in their first years at primary school,” she said.

Uptake among those not previously registered rose from 41 per cent to 69 per cent. There were other benefits, including some pupils asking for healthier foods at home.

As a result free school meals will be offered for all children in primary one to primary three from August 2010.

The move was welcomed by John Dickie, head of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland and a leading member of the Free School Meals Campaign.

“This is a massive step forward in the campaign to ensure every child, whatever their home circumstances, gets a healthy meal at school,” he said.

“It will help boost children’s health, education and wellbeing and provide a really welcome benefit to hard pressed families across Scotland.”

The Scottish government is currently developing its national food and drink policy in Scotland, a cross-government effort to “enhance Scotland’s reputation as a land of quality food and drink” as well as promote healthier and greener choices.