Under the provision of section 53A of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980, local authorities must promote the availability of school lunches at all schools, and any other educational establishments under their management, and they must encourage all learners in attendance to consume those school lunches. In the case of free school meals, education authorities are also required to take all reasonable steps to ensure that every pupil who is entitled to free school lunches receives them.
Free school meals provision
The arrangements for provision of free school meals to children and young people who are learning at home should continue. Local authorities and schools should continue to provide free school meals or alternatives, for children and young people who are eligible for free school meals.
These can be provided using a range of methods in line with family preference including: cash payments to families of eligible children; supermarket vouchers; home deliveries or through attendance at school. These options are not exhaustive and there may be alternatives which would better suit local needs and circumstances.
Local authorities and schools will use different approaches depending on their individual circumstances and in response to local need. These approaches may also need to change due to health protection advice.
From 22 February all children in P1-P3 who are attending school should receive the universal free school meal provision. All other children and young people in P4-S6 who are eligible should continue to receive a free school meal or alternative. Local authorities should continue to enable anyone whose financial circumstances have changed and now meet the eligibility criteria to apply for free school meals.
Provision for special diets
Local authorities and schools will continue to ensure that children and young people with special diets or allergies are catered for. No matter which option is chosen to provide meals to children and young people, care needs to be taken to check whether any have allergies or special diets before food is provided.