A new SNP promise to provide all Scottish schoolchildren with free breakfast and lunch has been confirmed by Deputy First Minister John Swinney, adding, “Hunger doesn’t take a vacation, so neither can we.”
The Deputy First Minister, speaking at the SNP Annual Meeting, explained this latest step in the fight against child poverty. The initiative will be introduced from August 2022 and will make Scotland the first country in the UK to provide all primary school pupils with free meals.
If the SNP is re-elected in May, every primary school pupil will be entitled to a free breakfast and lunch all year round.
Nicola Sturgeon believes that Scots have a ‘right’ to another vote for freedom.
In Years 1 to 3, the SNP had previously extended the free school meal entitlement to all students, while pupils in Years 4 to 7 are qualified on the basis of a number of requirements for income and results. Breakfast eligibility varies by group.
In the face of forecasts that Conservative welfare cuts would further exacerbate child poverty, the extension would implement year-round free breakfast and lunch for all primary school pupils – expected to cost around £ 230 million a year in additional spending.
“Swinney said at the annual SNP conference, “The callous cuts to welfare pushed through by the Conservatives are bad enough. But now, if the Tory Chancellor pushes through a second round of austerity, we face a flood of child poverty. The children of Scotland can not afford it.
For the weakest, this is not just a concern. For working families who are forced to feed their kids from food banks or go hungry themselves, this is a problem, he said.
Right now, all students are eligible for free school lunches in grades 1 through 3. We would not leave any child at the hands of a Tory chancellor, considering what I fear from the Tories, only because they are in P4, P5, P6 or P7.
“We will expand universal free school meals to all primary school pupils from 2022, P1 to P7, if elected next May.
We want every child to have the ability to learn every minute of every day of school, starting when they arrive in the classroom. That’s why we would also extend to all elementary school students the free provision of a nutritious breakfast.
One of the 2020 lessons is that there isn’t enough school time. Hunger doesn’t make a holiday, and we can’t either.
“We would extend free school meals to all school holidays if we are re-elected.
For all students at elementary school. All grades, all year round.
“This is the next step in our fight to stop the Tories pushing more and more children into poverty, to support families and make Scotland the best place to grow up.”
And children’s hunger activists welcomed the manifesto promise of John Swinney.
The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) director, John Dickie, said, “This is a very welcome commitment.” It is unquestionably time to eliminate means-testing in school meals, given the growing burden struggling families are under.
We know from our work that tens of thousands of children are officially recognized as disadvantaged across Scotland, but are not providing free school meals at present. The cost of school meals and breakfast is a major financial burden for many more hard-pressed families.
The most effective and effective way to ensure that every child profits is to provide a free school meal for every pupil and a cash replacement during school holidays.
“There is now ample evidence that a universal approach to free school meals not only reduces pressure on family finances, but can also improve children’s health, well-being and academic performance.”
The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has played a leading role in Scotland in advocating for universal free school meals since its establishment in 1999, as part of a larger effort to end child poverty.
The charity works through its Cost of the School Day initiative with students, young people, teachers and parents across Scotland to recognize and remove financial obstacles to full school participation.
“Mr. Dickie added, “Clearly, hard-hit families need more help now to get them through to the Scottish Child’s full rollout.