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Back to school for First Minister

05 January 2015

Free school meals now on the menu for all P1-3 pupils across Scotland.

Schools across Scotland are now serving up free school meals to every Primary 1-3 pupil, following the Scottish Government’s expanded free schools meals policy coming into effect on 5 January 2015.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon welcomed the measure, which will benefit an additional 135,000 pupils across Scotland and will save families of every eligible child at least £330 a year.

The Scottish Government is providing revenue funding of £70.5 million over two years to deliver the commitment, supported with total additional capital funding for all 32 local councils in Scotland of £24.8 million.

Speaking on a visit to her old primary school, Dreghorn Primary, in North Ayrshire, the First Minister said:
“This is an exciting and historic day for Scottish education. It’s the beginning of a new year, a new school term and free school meals are now on the menu for all Primary 1-3s. Great things are going on at schools across Scotland and it's a privilege to be back at Dreghorn Primary as First Minister, as my experiences here had a huge role in shaping my life.

“As a Government, we want to do all we can to make sure every young person has the best start in life and can make the most of their time in school. The delivery of free school meals for all Primary 1-3 pupils underlines our commitment to doing all we can to support the development of our young people and tackle inequalities in our society, including the scourge of child poverty. That’s why I am delighted that this policy is worth at least £330 to families of every eligible child across Scotland.

“School lunches are hugely important in supporting a pupil’s ability to learn. We know from recent studies that free school meals improve nutrition and health among pupils, which can only help improve attainment in schools.

“Here at Dreghorn, the headteacher, Philip Gosnay, and his team have done a great job to prepare for the expansion of free school meals and I know that all over Scotland other councils and schools have been doing all they can to ensure our nation’s future will reap the benefits.”

Philip Gosnay, Head Teacher, Dreghorn Primary School said:
“We are all thrilled that the First Minister has chosen her old Primary School to launch this new initiative. Research has shown that free school meals impact positively on the health and social development of children. It is vital that we, as educationalists, take this opportunity to use the provision of free school lunches to reinforce the connection between what we eat and our health and well-being. 

“Throughout Scotland, children have been successful in gaining skills, knowledge and experience about healthy eating. Our focus now lies in ensuring that they consistently put this knowledge into practice, making good choices for a long, productive and healthy life.” 

Councillor Tony Gurney, North Ayrshire Council Cabinet Member for Environment and Infrastructure said:
"Our catering team in North Ayrshire has won countless awards over the years producing healthy, top-quality meals for our children. We have just confirmed plans to continue offering school meals - free to those entitled to them - over the holidays and have continually shown our commitment to the well-being of our young people. 

"So it is fantastic that even more young pupils will now have the opportunity to eat a nutritious lunch and this far-sighted initiative underpins everything we are doing here in North Ayrshire. Everyone knows about the dietary problems in the west of Scotland. So getting children used to healthy food at a young age can provide lots of long-term health benefits. Hopefully this is just the start and we are building a healthier North Ayrshire and Scotland."

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