What is the anticipated uptake of free school meals as the universal free school meals programme rolls out this year, and how much will be invested in production to meet the demand?
The answer to your question is, whilst we don't hold information about the specific number of children who have taken free school meals this year, there 274,938 children in primaries 1 to 5 registered at schools across Scotland all of whom will be automatically registered to receive free school lunches. This information can be found in Table 6.4 of the Pupil Census Statistics 2021, which is available through the following web link: Pupil census: supplementary statistics - gov.scot (www.gov.scot).
With regards to funding being allocated to meet increased demand, the Scottish Government's draft budget in 2022-23 has included £42.2 million for local authorities to provide universal free school lunches during school term-time for all children in primaries 4 and 5. This is in additional to the £53 million for local authorities to provide universal free school lunches for all children in primaries 1 to 3.
In addition, the 2022-23 draft budget also includes a £30 million capital allocation for initial investment in school kitchens ahead of roll-out of free lunches to all primary school children (from primaries 1 to 7) later in the parliamentary term.
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
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