Universal free school meals served up

INVERCLYDE is leading the way by becoming one of the first council areas in Scotland to serve up free school meals for all primary pupils.

The council’s education and communities committee unanimously agreed that every child from P1-7 can access a healthy, nutritious lunch at no cost to their families from the start of the 2023/24 term in August.

Currently, all Inverclyde pupils up to and including primary fives are entitled to free school meals.

The local authority has traditionally been at the forefront of delivering lunches to young people without charge early and the extension to children in primaries six and seven is also on the menu ahead of schedule.

For many years, the qualifying criteria for free school meals in Inverclyde has also been more generous than the statutory requirements, meaning more families have benefited than would have normally been the case.

School Lunch
Image of children eating lunch.

Councillor Jim Clocherty, Inverclyde Council’s education convener, said: “This is a significant moment for our families and young people with the council leading the way in introducing universal free school meals for all primary pupils.

“From August this year, every child from P1 through to P7 can access a healthy, nutritious lunch in the comfort of one of our new or refurbished schools without cost to their families. 

“We have one of the best education estates in Scotland, if not the UK, and now we’re ensuring the young people who attend them are fuelled in the canteen to help reach their full potential in the classroom.”

While local authorities are being encouraged by the government to prepare for a national roll-out of free schools meals in all Scottish primaries, there is currently no date for the introduction or confirmed funding.

Inverclyde Council will utilise other money within its education budget to put the plan on the menu from the start of the new term in the summer.

The policy is expected to cost an additional £170,000 a year with another £350k one-off investment in school kitchens and dining areas to cater for the increased uptake at lunchtimes and work on that has already started.

The full report is on the council website via the link in the Related Links section of this page and a recording of the meeting is available on the council's YouTube channel by clicking on the link in the Other Websites section of this page.