Question Time — Scottish Executive — General Questions – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:41 am on 14th June 2007.
To ask the Scottish Executive what progress has been made towards finalising plans for its £5 million pilot scheme to provide free nutritious school meals. (S3O-258)
We are currently considering various options to trial the extension of free nutritious school meals. We will set out details of our plans in due course. As the First Minister said last week, we hope that our plans will be supported by all members of the Parliament.
We want Scotland to be healthier and, by targeting our youngest pupils, we hope to make a big difference. That will bring benefits not only in terms of health and nutrition, but in terms of the social skills that come with sitting down to eat with friends.
I know that the cabinet secretary agrees that the pilot scheme should eventually be rolled out across Scotland, starting in the most deprived areas. With that in mind, I ask her to examine closely the deprivation figures for Glasgow in general and for north Glasgow in particular. In north Glasgow, only 8 per cent of people consume the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, whereas the figure for Glasgow as a whole is 34 per cent.
When we consider which areas to include in the pilot, we will of course take into account a number of factors, not least deprivation. Although I cannot speak for local authorities such as Glasgow City Council—I must seek their agreement to hold the pilot—the highly concerning deprivation indicators that Bob Doris mentioned make a strong case for the inclusion in the scheme of the area to which he refers. I cannot yet specify where the trials will be held, but we will listen with interest to representatives of the areas that want to take part in them.