Scottish Government
Printable version

Pupils enjoying free school meals

New scheme benefits 135,000 P1-3 children across Scotland.

Providing a free school lunch for every P1-3 child in Scotland is “an investment in our nation’s future”, according to Deputy First Minister John Swinney.

Speaking during a visit to Central Primary School in Inverness, Mr Swinney described the policy as making “a significant contribution to the wellbeing of our children and our communities as a whole”.

As of this week, around 135,000 additional pupils in P1-3 classes across Scotland are entitled to receive a free school meal, saving families at least £330 per year per eligible child.

The Scottish Government is providing – following agreement with CoSLA – revenue funding of £70.5 million over two years to deliver the policy, supported by additional capital funding for local government of £24.8 million.

The Deputy First Minister said:

“The new term is bringing a terrific new opportunity for future generations of Scots – and for the rest of us as well.

“Free school meals for children in primary 1-3 will play an important role in improving attainment in schools. Evidence shows that well-fed children who’ve had a nutritious lunch do better in school and this policy will help every child achieve his or her best.

“A great deal of hard work has been done by schools and local authorities to make sure kitchens, canteens, staff and suppliers are all ready and Central Primary in Inverness is a good example of how the policy is working in practice, with all the school’s younger children eating a healthy meal together here at lunchtime.

“By saving their families at least £330 per eligible child per year, our investment will also go a long way towards helping deliver this government’s aim of eliminating the scourge of child poverty in Scotland.

“The £70.5 million revenue funding over two years and the £24.8 million capital investment in free school meals is an investment in our nation’s future. Starting now, I expect it to make a significant contribution to the wellbeing of our children and our communities as a whole.”

Derek Martin, Head Teacher of Central Primary School, said:

“Following extensive refurbishment, we now have a cooking kitchen for the first time at Central. This has resulted in an increase in uptake of school lunches across the school.

“Feedback from pupils, parents and staff is very positive - with many appreciating the quality of locally produced food being cooked on the premises. Over the coming weeks, we expect this pattern to continue as P1-3 free meals are implemented - with some pupils trying school lunches for the first time.”

Notes To Editors


Free school meals for children in P1-3 came into effect on January 5, 2015. The policy entitles an additional 135,000 children to free school meals on top of 33,000 already eligible. The policy has been supported by campaigners against child poverty, including Child Poverty Action Group Scotland, Children in Scotland, One Parent Families Scotland, the Church of Scotland and trade unions.

Channel website:

Share this article

Latest News from
Scottish Government