Boost as free school meals for youngest pupils comes into force

Family budgets in Moray could be as much as £330 better off in 2015 thanks to the introduction of free school meals for children in their first years of school.

From Monday free meals are being provided for children in the Primary 1 to 3 age groups, a move that will cost the Scottish Government over £95million.

Ministers say that the spending is worthwhile as it will provide access to a healthy and nutritious meal that should “positively shape children’s eating habits for the rest of their lives”.

Throughout Scotland around 135,000 children will benefit from a policy that has been backed by Child Poverty Action Group Scotland and One Parent Families Scotland.

Answering a Freedom of Information request last year the Moray Council said that providing the free meals in the region would cost £477,000 in the current financial year, rising to £1.9million for 2015/2016.

The local authority has been preparing for Monday’s introduction of the free meals policy since January last year, when it was first announced by the Scottish Government.

At that time Moray’s MSP, Richard Lochhead, said: “As a local constituency MSP and I have the pleasure of regularly visiting schools and meeting with local health professionals. One of the issues that comes up during discussions is the health and education of local children.

“All too often some kids aren’t receiving enough nutritional food to eat for a variety of reasons, and we know that this can have a negative impact on their learning ability and attainment.

“The introduction of free hot school meals is one way we can help youngsters focus better on their studies and ensure they are being well looked after at school.”

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