Free school meals

90,000 children to benefit.

More than 90,000 primary school pupils will be entitled to new free school meal support in term time.

The Scottish Government and local authority partners have reached agreement to introduce universal free school lunches for primary 4 and 5 children and targeted support during school holidays for all eligible primary and secondary children and young people.

The £28 million commitment will deliver free school lunches during term time for P4 children by August 2021 and to P5 children by January 2022

A further £21.75 million will provide targeted free school meal support during school holidays in 2021-22. This will start in July for around 145,000 primary and secondary children and young people from low income households.

Councils will determine what approach in school holidays meets local needs and circumstances, which may include the provision of direct payments, vouchers or food parcels. 

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“Free school meals are a vital support to thousands of children and young people across the country – ensuring that children have access to a free, healthy and nutritious meal every day they are in school and are ready to engage in learning. 

“The provision of £49.75 million in new funding to local authorities demonstrates our support for the health and wellbeing of children and young people and our commitment to reduce the impact of poverty on thousands of families across the country.”

Councillor Stephen McCabe of COSLA said:

“Councils across Scotland have long been committed to delivering healthy free school meals – to eligible children and young people. We are pleased that, in partnership with Scottish Government, this commitment can be further expanded upon by providing free school meals to all Primary 4s in August 2021 and Primary 5s in the later part of the academic year.

“Local authorities will continue to work hard to ensure that children and young people have access to healthy and nourishing meals so that they are fully able to learn, play, and engage with their peers and communities.”


A Programme Governance Board, jointly chaired by the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills and the COSLA spokesperson for children and young people, will monitor implementation, oversee financial monitoring and development of proposals


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