Pupils tuck into free school meals

Councillor Ashay Ghai is with catering team leader Christine Hicks,''facilities management lead Anne Miller and pupils Ruari Stevenson, Sylvia Webster and Mitchell Kerr.
Councillor Ashay Ghai is with catering team leader Christine Hicks,''facilities management lead Anne Miller and pupils Ruari Stevenson, Sylvia Webster and Mitchell Kerr.

Dinner ladies in schools throughout the area are in for a busy new year, dishing up thousands more school dinners each week as free meals for all Primary 1-3 children are introduced.

Plans are well underway for the predicted surge in update of dinners, including hiring new staff, buying new equipment and increasing orders from suppliers. The change is being introduced and funded by the Scottish Government.

Around 300 children are currently eligible for a free school meal but this figure is expected to rocket to more than 3,000 when the new initiative comes into force in this month.

Depute leader of the council and convener of neighbourhood services, Ashay Ghai said: “While we don’t know for sure how many children will take up the offer of a free lunch, we are expecting around 80 per cent to take advantage of this. Children benefit greatly from a hot meal at lunchtime, as it has a positive affect both on their health and wellbeing as well as their academic performance.

“Our officers have planned well for the introduction so we are hoping for a smooth start to the project over the coming weeks.”

Scottish Ministers say they are committed to ensuring every P1-3 pupil has the option of a free school meal and stressed the Scottish Government would spend £13m on funding the scheme in 2014-15 and a further £42m in 2015-16.