SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon will today announce her party’s intention to provide free school breakfasts and lunches to every primary school pupil in Scotland, all year round.
Ms Sturgeon says the move, which had previously been suggested by education secretary John Swinney in November, could save families hundreds of pounds a year.
The move comes a day after Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said all pupils should benefit from free meals during the summer holidays through catch-up clubs in a bid to tackle holiday hunger.
Holiday hunger: Scottish government to fund free meals over holidays
Ms Sturgeon is expected to say: “The Covid-19 pandemic has been tough for everyone – that’s why so much of our focus in government has been to help families get by in tough times.
Scottish election 2021: Free school meals pledges
“All children in primaries 1 to 3 already benefit from access to free school meals, saving families around £400 per child per year.
“But if re-elected, we will go much further. An SNP government will provide free school breakfasts and lunches to every primary school pupil in Scotland, all year round, and for all children in state-funded special schools in Scotland. This will eventually save them an estimated £650 a year per child.
“That will make an enormous difference to families in every corner of the country — but even this will not be the limit of our ambition.”
“I think the stigma for younger children of some people getting free school meals and others not is something we should wash away”@NicolaSturgeon says @theSNP will provide free breakfasts and lunches to every primary pupil all year round if re-elected pic.twitter.com/jxfepiOnsW— WestSoundNews (@WestSoundNews) April 8, 2021
There will also be plans to pilot free nutritious school breakfasts in secondary schools, which the party hopes will lead to a universal breakfast provision rolled out for older students.
Ms Sturgeon also had praise for Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford, who successfully lobbied the UK government into a U-turn over its free school meals policy in England.
She will add: “We’ll look to the long term by the piloting of free nutritious school breakfasts in secondary schools – which will help us to explore the feasibility of universal breakfast provision in secondary schools.
“School meals boost children’s energy, concentration and behaviour, which leads to improvements in academic attainment.
“Our plan gives much-needed support to families right now – but it is also a significant investment in Scotland’s future.”