Scottish school children using or entitled to free school meals: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

FOI reference: FOI/19/00040  
Date received: 8 January 2019
Date responded: 17 January 2019
Information requested

You asked us to provide information on:

  • the number of Scottish school children who were entitled to free school meals this year and the previous four academic years; and
  • the number of Scottish school children who used the free school dinner service in the same academic years.




Information on the uptake of school meals is contained within Chapter 5 of the Summary Statistics for Attainment, Leaver Destinations and Healthy Living publication, which was published on the Scottish Government’s website on 19 June 2018.  This publication provides information on the number of pupils registered for free school meals and levels of uptake.  Data on the uptake of school meals is collected during the week in which the healthy living survey is carried out.

In 2018, the healthy living survey was carried out on the week beginning 19 February 2018.  The survey shows that there were 255,758 pupils registered for free school meals at all publicly-funded schools in Scotland and 188,112 of those registered pupils were present and taking free school meals on the day when the survey was carried out at their school.  The survey counts school meals taken at lunch time only.

This information is available for all years from 2013 onwards, and the data for those years can be found in our summary statistics publication which you can access through the following link:


About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit 
Phone: 0300 244 4000 

The Scottish Government 
St Andrew's House 
Regent Road 

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