Free school meals planned for all West Lothian primary pupils

All West Lothian primary pupils will be entitled to a free school meal in future as the council rolls out new government legislation.

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 4:40 pm
Councillor David Dodds.
Councillor David Dodds.

All P1-P3 pupils are already entitled to a free school meal.

The Scottish Government announced in the 2021/22 budget that they will provide free school meals for all P4-P7 children in addition to the existing free P1-P3 provision.

In West Lothian extending it to other year groups will be done on a phased basis from this August.

In phase one, P4 pupils will be able to access free school meals from August 2021.

In phase two, P5 pupils will be able to access free school meals from January 2022.

Phase three will open access to P6 & 7 pupils for free school meals from August 2022.

The free meals programme is being rolled out on a phased basis in West Lothian to allow for equipment, staffing numbers, dining capacity and storage capacities to be changed to meet the increase in lunches being provided.

In addition, it was already planned as part of the Early Learning expansion that meals for nursery children would be provided by August 2021.

When all phases have been put in place, West Lothian Council will deliver more than 2.5 million free meals in primary schools and nurseries each year.

Over 12,800 meals will be produced daily from 41 locations in West Lothian.

The Scottish Government funding is expected to be around £3.2 million each year with a further one off cost of £5.3m required for facilities and resources that will enable the programme to be undertaken.

David Dodds, Executive councillor for Education revealed that the council is seeking further funding to deliver phases two and three of the programme.

He said: “The numbers of meals provided will increase significantly and we are preparing for that by assessing capacity and resources available to us.

“Phases one and ELC will be delivered from this August with the installation of new equipment.

"In order to deliver phases two and three there will be a significant amount of funding required and the council is seeking additional funding from the Scottish Government.”