First Minister announces universal free school meals for primary 1, 2 and 3
CPAG in Scotland is delighted that the First Minister has announced the extension of universal free school meals to all children in primary 1, 2 and 3. The announcement, which was made in the Scottish Parliament today (7th January) is in-keeping with the Scottish Government’s long held policy commitment to universal free school meals.
CPAG has long campaigned for universal provision of healthy school lunches, which have been proven to have a positive impact on children’s readiness to learn, their academic attainment and on supporting family budgets and home life.
A universal approach to provision has also repeatedly been shown to increase take up of healthy lunches, particularly amongst children and families experiencing poverty.
In a recent letter to the First Minister (17th December 2013), CPAG and campaign partners including children’s charities, anti-poverty campaigners and unions representing teachers, caterers and working parents urged the Scottish Government to provide P1-P3s with free school lunches. The letter drew attention to the wider benefits of universal free school meal provision, including:
- the support it will provide to the Scottish Government’s work to enhance the quality and impact of school food provision;
- the boost it could give jobs in the wider food industry by increasing the scale of catering contracts;
- the important contribution it will make to mitigating the impact of UK welfare reform (set to remove £2billion a year from Scottish family budgets by 2015);
- the support it will provide the Scottish Child Poverty Strategy by maximising families disposable incomes and improving children’s wellbeing, and;
- the contribution it will make to reducing the educational attainment gap by removing a significant cost barrier to full participation at school.