Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson have welcomed plans for free school meals to be made eligible all year round to every primary school pupil.
The move, which was announced by Deputy First Minister John Swinney, would be implemented if the SNP are re-elected in May next year.
It comes after Mr Swinney set out this latest step in the drive to tackle child poverty and make Scotland the first nation in the UK to offer universal free primary school meals.
The Scottish Government previously extended eligibility for a free school lunch meal to all P1 to P3 pupils while P4 to P7 pupils are eligible based on a range of income and benefits criteria.
Now, in the face of predictions that Westminster cuts will drive child poverty rates even higher, the expansion – estimated to cost around £230 million per year in additional expenditure – will introduce a free year-round breakfast and lunch for all primary school pupils from August 2022.
Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said
The Covid-19 pandemic has put real financial pressure on families, and it’s right that the Scottish Government ensured that children in the north-east would continue to receive free school meals over the holidays.
But we will not stop there. If the SNP is re-elected in May, every single primary school pupil in Aberdeenshire will be eligible for free breakfast and lunch, all year round.
And unlike the Tories, we didn’t have to be publicly shamed and condemned into choosing to feed hungry children – that is the basic duty of any government.
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said
This ambitious expansion of the free school meals scheme is the next step in our battle to stop the Tories forcing more and more kids into poverty, support families, and make Scotland the best place to grow up.
That progressive vision, underpinned by human rights, equality and wellbeing, is exactly why people in Scotland continue to put their faith in the SNP.