Extra cash to provide free school meals over the summer

The Scottish Government has announced an extra funding package of almost £28 million to provide free school meal over the summer.

Tuesday, 16th June 2020, 4:00 pm
The number of children qualifying for free school meals has increased by 53,000 due to the pandemic’s impact on family incomes and finances. Photo: Ian Rutherford/TSPL

Councils will be able to continue giving free meals to eligible children. Current data shows that around 175,000 children are currently getting these, including those receiving vouchers or cash to buy meals.

Since lockdown began the number of children qualifying for free school meals has increased by 53,000 due to the pandemic’s impact on family incomes and finances. The new funding will also help councils support households forced to self-isolate due to the virus.

This new funding is in addition to £30m invested in March.

Depute first minister and education secretary John Swinney said: “These are challenging times for families and economic uncertainty has added even more pressure on parents already dealing with the stress of this dire Covid-19 crisis.

“We want to ensure families are given the same support through the summer holidays as we provide in term time in recognition of this unprecedented situation. That is why free school meals provision is essential to support families, children and young people who need some extra help at this difficult time.

“This significant additional funding will allow councils to plan for the summer and to continue the existing provision, whether that be offering nutritious free meals for children or through more direct means allowing families to get food for their families.

“Councils will have the flexibility to ensure they are able to use this additional funding to put in place provision that meets local needs and circumstances.

“£15m of this funding is being made available to ensure we continue supporting the range of households who have been or may experience difficulty in accessing or affording food during the pandemic.

“We know that people are under pressure just now as they cope with the impact of Covid-19 and this funding shows we are doing all we can to help them at this difficult time. This funding is additional to the £350m we have already made available.”