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Free school meals: When will your primary school child get them?

All children in primary one to five in Scotland are eligible for free school meals, with those in primary six onwards having to apply if they are eligible.
All children in primary one to five in Scotland are eligible for free school meals, with those in primary six onwards having to apply if they are eligible.

All primary school pupils in Tayside and Fife will be entitled to a free school meal in the future.

Around 90,000 children will soon be eligible for the free school meals under a phased roll out from the Scottish Government.

Local authorities will deliver the additional lunches over the coming school terms.

All younger pupils, including nursery and P1-P3, are already entitled to free school dinners.

The Scottish Government has also committed to offering additional holiday support for low income households.

When will your child get a free school lunch?

From the new school term in August 2021, pupils in P4 will be able to have a lunch at school at no cost.

Children in P5 will have to wait until January 2022 until they are eligible.

The delivery is a £28 million commitment from the Scottish Government and has received cross-party support in parliament and local government.

Older children in P6 and P7 are expected to have their free school meal by August 2022.

Welcoming the universal primary school roll out, Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville, said it would be a “vital support” to thousands of children in Scotland.

The roll-out has been welcomed by local councillors from across Tayside and Fife who say the support will help children living in poverty.

Some of the school meals that could be on offer include (from left to right) lentil soup, macaroni cheese, chicken in gravy, meatballs in Moroccan sauce, fruit gingerbread and custard.

Councillor Derek Wann, Angus Council’s children and learning convener, said: “Many families are experiencing considerable hardship and the cost of school lunches can be a huge financial burden.

“I’m pleased that free school meals will be extended to children in P4 when they return after the summer holidays and P5 children from January 2022.”

While Councillor Stewart Hunter, Dundee’s children and families convener, said the expansion will ensure more children receive a “healthy meal during the school day”.

Challenges

Offering the additional meals, however, is expected to be a challenging task for local authorities.

Perth and Kinross Council, on Wednesday, opted to provide flash-frozen meals to primary pupils in order to cater to the demand.

It is expected an additional 500,000 more meals will be required in the region each year.

Dundee and Angus already use the industrial kitchen model which sees meals produced by Tay Cuisine, of Tayside Contracts.

Caroline Shiers, convener of lifelong learning in Perth and Kinross, welcomed the universal meals policy.

But she added: “It is clear that the current system can’t handle the big increase in meals that we need to deliver. So, I am pleased we have reached an agreement on how to provide these additional free school meals.

“The new system will result in a consistent quality food served in all our schools, help us to meet individual pupils’ dietary needs better, wider menu choice, more local produce being used, and reduce food waste and transport costs.”

Holiday hunger support

Funds have also been set aside to provide “targeted free school meal support” during the school holidays in 2021-22.

This will start in July for around 145,000 primary and secondary children who qualify by being in receipt of certain benefits or clothing grants.

It is expected to cost a further £21.75 million and local authorities will determine the best way to deliver this, which could include direct payments, vouchers or food parcels.

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