“Time to deliver”: child poverty campaigners respond to Scottish Government school meals statistics

July 29, 2010

Commenting on the publication of Scottish Government school meals statistics today, John Dickie, Head of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said:

“The cost of school lunches remains a real barrier for too many families, despite a welcome extension to free school meal entitlement. If local authorities and Ministers are serious about really boosting the take up of healthy school meals they need to keep their promise to roll out free school lunches to all P1 to P3 pupils as soon as possible. When universal free school lunches were piloted take up jumped massively from 53% to 75%, way beyond the 1% rise reported in these latest figures.

Providing free school meals to all children would give a much needed financial break to hard pressed families across Scotland, as well as help boost children’s health, readiness to learn and well-being. It’s time for politicians to deliver.”

Notes for editors

For further information please contact:

John Dickie, Head of CPAG in Scotland, on 0141 552 3656 or 07795 340 61802

  • Scotland's Chief Statistician today published a range of statistics relating to school meals in Scotland's publicly funded schools. Of those pupils present on the survey day, 46.1 per cent took a meal supplied by the school, compared to 45.1 per cent in 2009. Full details here – http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2010/06/28154556/0
  • Evaluation of the Scottish pilot free school meal programme for P1 to P3 pupils (http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/236867/0064986.pdf) shows that universal provision massively boosts take up of healthy school meals as well as relieving pressure on family budgets:
    • take up of free school meals increased from 53% to 75%
    • amongst children already entitled to free school meals take-up also rose (by up to 8.5 percentage points)
    • “...the trial…impacted positively on the home environment of pupils,” and, “...the simple benefit of increasing disposable income was particularly evident amongst parents with more than one child.”
  • CPAG is the leading charity campaigning for the abolition of child poverty in the UK and for a better deal for low-income families and children.
  • CPAG is one of over 150 member organisations of the Campaign to End Child Poverty, campaigning for public and political commitment to ensure the goals of halving child poverty by 2010 and ending child poverty by 2020 are met.