School Meals Debt and Access to Universal Free School Meals

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at on 8 September 2022.

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Photo of Shirley-Anne Somerville Shirley-Anne Somerville Scottish National Party

We fully acknowledge that steep cost of living rises are putting a huge strain on some families and that they are facing many unforeseen challenges. All pupils in primaries 1 to 5 at publicly funded schools currently benefit from universal free school lunches during term time, while free school meals remain in place for eligible pupils in other age groups after primary 5.

We continue working with our partners in local authorities to plan for the expansion of free school meal provision to primaries 6 and 7 during this session of Parliament. That work is being supported by £30 million of capital funding in this financial year to support the expansion of catering and dining facilities.

We are working with our partners in local authorities to fully understand the impact of school meals debt on families. In the meantime, I urge all local authorities to do all that they can to resolve any payment issues without withdrawing meals from pupils.